BUKIT JALIL, Jan 26 — Malaysian athletes who won silver and bronze medals at the South-east Asian (SEA) Games will get higher allowances of RM1,500 and RM1,000, respectively, starting this year, said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Previously, both categories of medallist received RM800.

“We’re aware that this is a big year for athletes with the Sea Games in March, Commonwealth Games in May-June and the Asian Games in September, hence, we want to increase these allowances to further incentivise the athletes who will go for these events.

“The increment from RM800 to RM1,500 and RM1000 will be in addition to the already existing lodging, food, sports science, training venue and facilities,” said Faizal during his first address of the year with the remaining national athletes at Bukit Jalil today.

The allowance for gold medallists remains at RM2,000.

Faizal said from now, the athletes’ contracts will be based on events and no longer yearly, due to budget constraints.

National gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi said she felt the times reflected the need to make drastic changes, but she felt sad for her colleagues who were dropped.

“Yes, there’re different contracts now due to the pandemic and I feel we should accept this, work hard in training and tournaments and try to get the best out of yourself,” said the 2020 Tokyo Olympian.

“I’m going to do my best to continue being here and my aim now is to excel at the Sea Games. With so much uncertainty, I don’t know what the event calendar is like, so I’m working hard in training,” said the 27-year-old.

Apart from that, Faizal touched on former national junior badminton champion Goh Jin Wei’s ban from tournaments by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).

Goh was banned for two years by BAM from competitions just like national No 1 singles shuttler Lee Zee Jia.

Lee had his ban overturned on appeal.

Goh sent her letter of appeal to BAM today, which Faizal confirmed, but said he still did not know the outcome.

Recently 144 athletes were dropped from the Podium Programme and National Backup Programmes.

Podium was meant for Malaysia’s elite athletes.

The reason for these cuts were budget constraints due to the ongoing pandemic.

It is estimated that around 45 able athletes and 12 para athletes will benefit from this increment in allowances.

The cost for these increased allowances was RM8.93 million, with increments the new total will come to RM9,266,400.