MP calls out Sports Commissioner, says Klang Marathon just tip of iceberg

File picture shows the car that hit three marathon runners during the Klang City International Marathon 2017 in Klang on December 10, 2017. — Picture courtesy of Royal Malaysian Police
File picture shows the car that hit three marathon runners during the Klang City International Marathon 2017 in Klang on December 10, 2017. — Picture courtesy of Royal Malaysian Police

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 ― The Klang Marathon that took place without approval exposed the Sports Commissioner Office’s (PPS) inability to fully regulate such events, said Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming.

An avid runner, Ong pointed out that while the PPS said the Klang event was unsanctioned, it failed to disclose that other similar events also took place without official approval.

He added that runs like the Klang Marathon were regularly allowed to take place with just the local council and venue owner’s approvals.

“Hardly any race organisers I know ask for permission from the Office of the Sports Commissioner. The police and the local authorities also don’t require the race organisers to have permission from the Office of the Sports Commissioner,” he said in a statement.

“If the Klang International Marathon is an illegal race because it was not approved by the Office of the Sports Commissioner, then almost all other races in Malaysia would be considered illegal including ultramarathons, trail runs, charity runs, fun runs, tower runs as well as cycling events.”

Ong then questioned the PPS’ expertise in approving such events, noting that it was wholly reliant on the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) for guidance.

However, the MAF was not a race organiser and may not have the necessary expertise to properly evaluate such runs beyond the technical aspects of the event.

“Ideally, the MAF should provide guidelines and standards for race organisers to follow in order to ensure a high-quality race,” he said.

He also questioned how binding the MAF’s recommendations were on the PPS’s eventual approval or rejection of an event.

On the move to amend Section 36 of the Sports Development Act 1997, the DAP political education director said the Youth and Sports Ministry must obtain the relevant input from all stakeholders to decide the best course of action.

He said special attention must be given to running including cycling events, adding that the number of such races has increased rapidly over the years.

“What I hope won’t happen is a knee jerk reaction such as forcing all running events which are to be held in the next few weeks or months to obtain approval in an arbitrary manner from the Office of the Sports Commissioner.

“Let us have an honest, open and fruitful discussion on how to improve the quality of running events in Malaysia so that we can minimize the chances of another such tragic accident from happening again,” he said.

At Sunday’s Klang City International Marathon 2017, ultramarathoner Evelyn Ang, 44, was among three people hit by a car at around 4.30am on Sunday along Jalan Kapar Batu 2.

Ang, who was one of the pacers for the marathon, was in critical condition after sustaining serious head injuries, while the other two victims — Amiruddin Hamid, 37, and Ahmad Hadafi Jus, 42 — sustained light injuries.

Police arrested a 27-year-old driver who had allegedly lost control of his vehicle and rammed into the runners from behind.

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has subsequently accused Earth Runners Int Group Sdn Bhd, which organised the race, of breaching Section 36 of the Sports Development Act 1997 by not getting a licence from the PPS.

Section 36 of the Sports Development Act states that no company can be involved in organising any sporting activity or any other activity related to sports in accordance to the regulations set by the minister, unless licensed by the commissioner.

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