Explain the real reason for Zhuliang's removal — Wong Kah Woh

DECEMBER 23 — Below is an open letter from State Assemblyman for Canning and DAPSY chief Wong Kah Woh to the Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin:

Dear Mr Minister,

I am shocked to learn that the decision of not extending National Diving Head Coach Yang Zhuling’s contract actually came from you.

You cited the “culture and environment of fear among some of our diving athletes” to be the main cause for the non-renewal and “the culture and environment had caused cases of rape, sexual harassment, violence, beatings, bullying and threats.”

The allegation is very serious and has criminal implications. You have confirmed that Yang Zhuliang was not “involved in those things” but why was he made the scapegoat in the alleged “culture and environment of fear”?

You have claimed that Zhuliang “had allowed them to spread uncontrollably” and that several warnings had been issued to him and another coach who was quite close to him. The said “other” coach, who is none other than Huang Qiang, was charged for rape in October. Are you trying to imply that Zhuliang was abetting the crime, in justifying his removal by the National Sports Institute (NSI) and the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM). This is unfair to Zhuliang, whom you have confirmed as someone not involved in Huang Qiang’s case.

Zhuliang claims that he has never had the chance to meet with your goodself, NSI or ASUM on these matters. I am confident that you are aware of the fundamental principle of “the right to be heard” before passing judgment, in particularly a judgment not only affecting Zhuliang, but the future of Malaysian diving in general.

Huang Qiang’s case is not the first case of sexual assault in Malaysian sports. An athletics coach was charged for molest and sentenced to prison many years ago. I am in full agreement with you when you said that no gold medal is worth more than the safety of the national athletes. I would add that in fact, all stakeholders in sports at all levels, from the Ministry, NSI, sports associations, coaches and athletes are collectively responsible in deterring these cases from happening.

Hence the question arises: Would the removal of a single, albeit the Head Coach of the team, solve the issue and eliminate the alleged “culture and environment of fear”? Are there no officials at all from NSI and ASUM who should also be held responsible if indeed the athletes’ safety and welfare are not being protected in the current system?

Prior to your statement yesterday, it was said that Zhuliang’s coaching techniques were “old school” and he has failed to embrace sports science technology. The Chairman of the NSI, Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi has confirmed that this is the reason of Zhuliang’s removal.

So now, which statement is true? You said that that the new line of coaches have been asked to fully integrate sports science that were previously “not fully utilised”, which indicates and implicates your agreement with NSI’s allegation of Zhuliang adopting an “old school” coaching techniques. You are unwittingly departing from your “culture and environment of fear” theory.

Zhuliang’s contributions to the nation in taking our national diving team to great heights is something that needs no further elaboration. The results speak for itself. It is inevitable that some quarters may want to take credit or the limelight for this sport. It is our duty to ensure meritocracy is placed above all personal interest and individual preferences.

Zhuliang is either being made the scapegoat for the said alleged “culture and environment of fear”, or the alleged “culture and environment of fear” is being manipulated to justify NSI’s removal of Zhuliang to cover up the real reason — which is known only to a few persons.

We trust that you want Malaysia sports to do well and soar to greater heights, so do we. We are unequivocally in support of Malaysian sporting community.

Mr Minister, please make things clear and transparent.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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