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Bursting of the London High Performance Sports Training Centre balloon in less than a week raises concern whether the highly-regarded Abdullah administration had in three years degenerated into a shambolic and incompetent government
(Parliament, Wednesday) : The bursting of the London High Performance Sports Training Centre balloon in less than a week raises concern whether the highly-regarded Abdullah administration had in three years degenerated into a shambolic and incompetent government.
Last Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Sports Development, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a new lease of life for the controversial London Sports Centre, originally slated to cost RM490 million until it ran into quite unanimous opposition in the country including from Members of Parliament from both sides of the House.
Najib assured that “no additional costs will be incurred” in turning the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) in Brickendonbury into a sports training centre as “we will be using existing facilities”.
Yet the cost for turning the TARRC into a sports training centre instead of a sports complex will be a walloping big bill of RM69 million for “refurbishments” - which will include building accommodation for athletes and upgrading the fields and equipment all to be ready by April.
However, a Sun exclusive “Sports centre plan stalled” by R. Nadeswaran reported that despite Najib’s announcement that the London training centre will be full operational by April, it is likely to be a non-starter.
This is because the East Herts Council, under whose jurisdiction the Brickendonbury centre falls, holds the position that issues covering planning and development encountered in previous applications remain relevant to new proposals to converting existing buildings to provide accommodation for athletes, installing a football pitch, and extending an existing swimming pool on the site.
The council’s communications officer Nick White told the Sun in an email response to queries that the Brickendonbury site is within the green belt, surrounded by protected woodland. Some of the buildings are listed. As all these will need to be taken into account when planning application comes in, the council expect it will be a couple of months before a planning application is submitted.
In view of the stand taken by the East Herts Council, it is unlikely even if planning permission is approved, renovations can be completed by April.
This has led Nadeswaran to ask: who gave the deputy prime minister wrong or false information on the progress of the plans to turn the Tun Abdul Razaak Research Centre in Brickendonbury into a high-performance sports centre and which would be fully operational by April.
This and many other questions relating to the cost and the justification for such a RM69 million sports centre in London – which is likely to cost many times over before the final bill is in – also demand an answer from Najib to prove that he is not leading an incompetent, unprofessional and shambolic Cabinet Committee on Sports Development. The short sorry history of the RM490 million London Sports Complex turned into RM69 million Sports Centre raises grave questions about the integrity of the entire decision-making process at the highest Cabinet level.