Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 9th of September 2017
Did the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, give approval for the organizing of the recently cancelled Malaysia Marathon?
The Malaysia Marathon, which was supposed to take place in Kuala Lumpur on the 1st of October, has been abruptly cancelled less than a month before the run. The cancellation was announced on the Malaysia Marathon website and facebook page on the 5th of September, 2017. On the 7th of September, the Minister of Tourism, Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, announced that the reason for the cancellation of the marathon was because the organizer could not deliver its initial promise of bringing 5,000 runners from China to participate in this run.
Not surprisingly, Malaysian runners vented their frustration via facebook including the FB page for the Malaysia Marathon. At the time of writing, the FB posting for the cancellation of the race had received 371 comments, mostly negative. The last-minute cancellation of running events is not a new occurrence in Malaysia. It has happened many times before which is why I presented the results of a survey of Malaysia runners to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, via his Deputy, Datuk M. Saravanan in parliament on the 1st of August 2017. Understandably, the Minister has been busy with the 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA games and now, with the Paralympic games which starts on the 17th of September 2017. But this last-minute cancellation raises a few questions which needs to be answered by the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Youth and Sports, which are listed as the organizers of the Malaysia Marathon (together with DBKL and Wisdom Sports (M) Sdn Bhd).
Firstly, did the Minister of Tourism have any contingency plans if the race organizer, Wisdom Sports, was not able to bring the promised number of Chinese runners to Malaysia? The Minister should know that even for established marathons with more than 40,000 participants such as the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) and the Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM), the number of foreign participants is far less than 5,000, what more for a race that was supposed to attract only 20,000 participants. Did the Ministry not think about the welfare of the Malaysia runners who had signed up for this race, some of whom had booked train, bus and plane tickets to travel to KL from other states to participate in this race? Was the Ministry not able to attract enough corporate sponsorship to help with the expenses for organizing this race, even if there was an insufficient number of Chinese participants? The explanation given by the Minister for the cancellation of this event is not sufficient and shows that the Minister does not care about the welfare of Malaysia runners and tourists.
Secondly, the Minister of Youth and Sports should inform the public if he signed off on this event. Section 33 of the Sports Development Act 1997 states that “no person shall bid to host any international sports competition or event in Malaysia without the prior approval in writing of the Minister whose decision thereon shall be final”.
Since the Minister of Youth and Sports was listed as one of the organizers for this event and the international nature of this event involving so many Chinese runners requires the approval of the Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin should state if he did indeed sign-off on this race. If he gave his written approval for the organizing of this race, then he should explain to the public what sort of assurances he had that this race would not be cancelled if there were an insufficient number of participants from China. I do not think that this would be a valid reason for other international marathons such as the SCKLM and the PBIM to be cancelled. Why should it be a valid reason for an event like the Malaysia Marathon?
In addition, there were numerous other details concerning this Malaysia Marathon which indicated that the organization of this race was not in accordance to international sporting standards (which is required by Section 34 of the Sports Development Act 1997) including not publishing the details of the route for the 42km, 21km and 10km races, not publishing the amount of prize money and other prizes for the 42km, 21km and 10km races and for initially ‘mislabelling’ this run as being certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Was the Minister aware of all these potential shortcomings of the Malaysia Marathon before he signed-off and approved for this race to be organized?
The last-minute cancellation of a supposedly international marathon that included two prominent Ministries as its organizer leaves a shameful black mark on the running landscape in the country. If the Malaysian government cannot protect the welfare of Malaysia runners in a race called the Malaysia Marathon, then can we trust the government to protect the welfare of Malaysian runners in other races which are organized in the country?
Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang
 The claim of the IAAF certification was later removed when it was questioned by members of the running community.