Last Sunday, the Algerian Prime Minister, Ayman Ben Abdel Rahman, sacked two senior officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, claiming “the negligence recorded in the performance of tasks and the absence of a spirit of responsibility and negligence”.
The sacking was said to be due to the lack reception of the athletes after their participation in the Paralympic Games as well as putting the athletes on a regular bus on their return to Algiers. The bus was involved in accident, sparking huge condemnation on the treatment of the national athletes.
Algeria had won a total of 12 medals in Tokyo, including four gold medals.
The debacle has now seen the sacking of both the sports ministry’s general secretary Nassim Sbei and the general director of sport, Mohamed Jirawi.
While some may see the decision as hasty, it was nevertheless swift enough to quell the din in the Algerian social media platforms.
In Malaysia, it takes months and sometimes years before any action, if any, is taken in such cases. Matters drag on for so long that sometimes people completely forget about the problems and scandals.
If you are looking for a quick resolution to the Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli saga, don’t.
Ziyad was stripped of his win and world record for failure to report for the shot put event on time during the recent Tokyo Paralympics.
Punctual, on time, two minutes late, five minutes late and 28-minutes late. It is so muddied now that when the truth, if it does come out, would be considered fake news.
We will be inundated with talks of appeals and justice and what-not for a short period and everything would be replaced by the next scandal or the next feel-good moment.
After almost quarter-of-a-century, not all questions regarding the 1998 Commonwealth Games were actually resolved.
It was not until 2004, that Sukom 98 Bhd, the company set up to organise the 1998 Commonwealth Games, closed their accounts. The company posted a loss of RM11.6 million.
Closing the account was a stop gap measure to quell the various issues being raised and it ended up being a permanent resolution without actually answering many questions.
Back in 2016, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission detained a division secretary of the Sports Ministry after being suspected of masterminding a syndicate to embezzle RM107 million in government funds.
The then Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, had transferred the said official out of the Ministry. But can anyone confirm what happened to the official after that or to the RM107 million embezzled?
In 2018, the then deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim had even confirmed that the said ministry was at number 8 out of 25 ministries in which corruption was a big problem, citing weaknesses in the procurement and payment processes.
Have these weaknesses been resolved yet? No one actually knows, they only assume the problems have been arrested and eradicated.
Last year, the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) president Datuk Abu Samah Abdul Wahab was picked up by the authorities on alleged corruption.
Abu Samah was never charged to date neither were there any details on any part of the investigations revealed.
That is not all, what happened to the Ministry official caught in a drug party last year or to the status of the Ministry’s appointee to the Stadium Board, who was embroiled in a bribery scandal.
In 2008, RM4 million of the Paralympic Council of Malaysia’s (PCM) funds were used by its then president Datuk Zainal Abidin Abu Zarin through a company – Paralimpik Ventures – of which both he and his two sons were majority shareholders. The money was channeled to a company in the USA.
Following an internal inquiry and MACC investigations in 2012, Datuk Zainal was suspended. But of the sum total, only RM200,000 were ever recovered.
How about performances on the field?
During the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the national football team were given a 0-10 hammering by the UAE, Malaysia’s worst ever defeat in half-a-century.
Nothing concrete came out of it, the same people are basically still in charge and despite not showing much progress the newly appointed Sports Minister saw it fit that they should be the first entity he should make an official visit ahead of the other main key stakeholders of Malaysian sports.
Or how about the recent revelation of the alleged attempt to bribe Indonesian badminton legend Taufik Hidayat to throw a match against Malaysia’s Datuk Lee Chong Wei?
Despite Chong Wei, admitting he now knows the person, who was implicated in the bribery attempt, and the Malaysians Corruption Watchgroup making a report to the MACC on the matter, the whole fiasco seems to have been quickly forgotten.
Out of sight, out of mind?
We have also quickly forgotten that Malaysia once again failed to reach its target at the Olympics as was the case with the last SEA Games and the last Asian Games.
We have also forgotten about the alleged lavish spending by the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM) more than a decade ago. The then Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had allocated a large sum to the organisation, of which she was also the chairperson.
From the government grant of RM11 million, RM 1.4 million was spent on entertainment, RM858,000 on tourism and travel, RM932,000 on advertising and media and RM710,000 on printing and stationary.
Despite hue and cry over the matter, it was also quickly erased from our memories.
Unlike Algeria, we are a nation that wants to do endless investigations without any real resolution.
We are a nation of emotional sports fans, who go up in arms in the social media, but quickly switch to the next scandal because it brings in more likes and followers.
We are nation of nit-pickers, quickly forgetting the past headline stories, which indirectly absolves individuals responsible the justice and accountability.
We are a nation of sports administrators, who prefer to sweep the rubbish under the carpet and hope nobody ever notices the lump.