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All plans for RM490 million Sports Training Centre outside London should be frozen until Azalina could convince Parliament and the sports community that it is not another extravagant empire-building bash only benefiting Sports Ministry officials for overseas junkets and that the money could not be better spent to raise Malaysian sports standards and talents
All plans for the RM490 million Sports Training Centre outside London should be frozen until the Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said could convince Parliament and the sports community that it is not another extravagant empire-building bash only benefiting Sports Ministry officials for overseas junkets and that the money could not be better spent to raise and promote Malaysian sports standards and talents.
After Azalina’s written answer to my question on Monday that the government will go ahead and build the RM490 million “high-performance sports training centre” in London, the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai claimed that the cost of the proposed sports centre in London had yet to be determined, that the matter was still under study and that the “RM490 million cost of the proposed project as alleged by Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang did not come from the ministry”. (Bernama 11.7.06)
Liow was corrected the very next day by the Minister when Azalina admitted ownership of the RM490 million costing, but clarified that it was only “a long-term estimated cost and not an allocation for it to be spent within this year” and that it was a long-term plan “which might take up to 10- years”.
She said there are 14 squash players and 10 archers in Brickendonbury as “it will not be economical to shuttle them between Malaysia and Europe if they are to be involved in tournaments in the continent”.
It is clear from these confused answers that there is total lack of openness, accountability and transparency in the proposed RM490 million high-performance sports training centre, as if the Minister and her officials have a lot to hide from public knowledge and scrutiny – reinforcing suspicion that the whole concept had been mooted not so much to raise sports standards and promote sports talents, but for empire-building as well as to create opportunities for overseas junkets by Sports Ministry officials.
Azalina should make public all details and costings, including a breakdown of the RM490 million.
Plantations and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui has admitted that the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) buildings have been classified as heritage buildings and it is dubious that approval would be forthcoming from the British authorities to turn the historic site which claims to have a Roman settlement 2,000 years ago into a modern high-performance sports centre.
Under the circumstances, why is Azalina pushing ahead as if approval from the British authorities is a foregone conclusion – even sending 14 squash and 10 archers there? Are there facilities at the TARRC site now for the squash players and archers to improve their standards or are they just using Brickendonbury as lodging facilities. If so, what type of a high-performance sports training centre is this?
Azalina has to convince Parliament and the nation that the whole concept of a high-performance sports training centre off London is sound, as if Malaysia’s fall as the world’s champion in badminton is because of the lack of such a centre such in London.
Furthermore, if there is to be a sports complex overseas, why not Australia not only in terms of cost but in view of Australia’s excellence in sports.
The RM490 million Sports Training Centre in Brickendonbury is shaping up as a test case of the current administration “walk the talk” in terms of its pledges and exhortations, whether on accountability, transparency and good governance or “Change Lifestyle” to cut down on waste and extravagance.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman