Do the right thing, Khalid Ibrahim

DEC 31 — The Selangor government announced in May it had reserves touching RM2.8 billion.

During the tabling of the 2014 Budget at the Selangor state assembly last month, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim revealed the state government had allocated RM2.28 billion.

Effective tomorrow, Khalid, elected representatives, executive council members, Speaker and deputy Speaker will receive massive pay hikes.

Khalid’s pay will increase by 106 per cent, from the present RM14,175 to RM29,250 while the salaries of the exco members will shoot up to 231 per cent (from RM6,109 to RM20,250).

One would think Selangor has got it right with plenty of cash to splurge. Wrong!

This is a state, that despite the billions in its coffers, had failed to address simple issues like the pot-hole ridden roads in Hulu Langat, faulty street lights in Ampang to failing to maintain hockey stadiums in Pandamaran and Petaling Jaya.

The pitches of both stadiums were pathetic.

In fact, the Pandaraman hockey stadium was declared unsafe by the Selangor Hockey Association (SHA) in 2010 while the PJ stadium was in no position to host any hockey competitions as it has not been repaired for the past 11 years. Sadly, some quarters were forced to use the pitches for clinics and games.

This forces SHA to organise their leagues at the Pantai Hockey Stadium in KL and at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Bear in mind that the two stadiums also hosts the KL Hockey Association leagues and the schools zone and inter-zone competitions.

Selangor schools are also forced to venture out of the state to hold their annual meets before selecting the best players to represent the state in the national schools tournament.

Despite all odds, Selangor won the national Under-21 title after 21 years, named champions of the Razak Cup Division 2 and netted their third consecutive national Under-16 indoor title this year.

The matter has been raised by the Press on numerous occasions over the years only to fall on deaf ears. According to SHA, the Klang Municipal Council and PJ City Council have “turned a blind eye” and even failed to address the association’s queries pertaining to the pathetic condition of the pitches.

To add salt to the wound, the Pandamaran pitch hosted a school band competition on June 18, 2011 while PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must have been ignorant not to notice the poor condition of the PJ Stadium which hosted the “Siri Jelajah Merdeka Rakyat Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim ke Selangor” on Jan 19.

Some claim politics were in play as SHA president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal is a Barisan Nasional man while the state is led by Pakatan Rakyat (PR). There are others who said PR leaders are not too fond of spending funds on sports.

If true, then it is indeed a sad state of affairs. Unlike football, our hockey team qualified for the World Cup and came out fourth in the recent junior World Cup.

SHA remains among the very few states that organises a hockey league. They ought to be supported.

The Selangor government must realise that hoarding all the money is of no use if it is not directed back to the rakyat. Rest assured, re-turfing and maintaining the hockey stadiums in the state will not cost as much as the mega-million ringgit Malaysian International Tuna Port or Port Klang Free Zone project.

It will take less than one per cent of Selangor’s reserves to fix the pitches and put smiles on hockey enthusiasts in the state.

Perhaps the Selangor government could gather members of the PKR-backed Jingga 13 and clean the stadiums tonight instead of heading to Dataran Merdeka. Now that would be an appreciated effort.

It must be realised that  sporting venues is not just to host sports alone. It serves as a training ground for unity and sportsmanship.

Open your eyes, Khalid.

Start 2014 by doing the right thing.

P/S: Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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