DAP’s Serdang lawmaker said most running events would obtain permission from local authorities or the venue owner, but not the sports commissioner (SC).
He was referring to statements by SC Zaiton Othman yesterday, who said the Klang marathon organisers had not received approval for the event from her office, and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who said failure to obtain the commissioner’s approval was an offence under the Sports Development Act 1997.
Ong, however, said the vast majority of running events and races in the country were not approved by the SC’s Office.
“For most runs in Malaysia, the organisers only have to obtain permission from local authorities, the venue owner and traffic police.
“Police and local authorities also don’t require the organisers to get permission from the SC’s Office,” he said in a statement today.
He said going by Zaiton and Khairy’s statements, “all other races in Malaysia would be considered illegal, including ultramarathons, trail runs, charity runs, fun runs, tower runs, as well as cycling events”.
The Klang marathon organisers said they had complied with procedures, including submitting applications to police and the Klang Municipal Council in June, and that approvals were granted in August.
The organisers’ spokesman did not comment when asked if they were aware about the need to obtain approval from the SC’s Office.
Ong, however, said the SC did not have “the expertise or capacity” to evaluate if race organisers were professionally capable of organising marathons.
He said the more relevant authority was the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF), which had such expertise.
“The SC will turn to a sporting body that oversees that sport, to seek their recommendation on whether to approve an event.
“Sadly, the MAF does not have a website or an active Facebook page, so we do not know if such guidelines exist and whether they are provided to race organisers. ”
To Khairy’s statement on offences under the Sports Development Act, Ong said the section of the law stating that approval from the SC’s Office was required was “too vague”.
“The Youth and Sports Ministry needs to engage in an extensive stakeholder consultation before amending the Sports Development Act (to make it more specific).”
Marathon pacer Evelyn Ang, 44, suffered serious injuries after being hit by a car during the Klang marathon, and is still in a coma after undergoing brain surgery.
Two other runners – Amiruddin Hamid, 37, and Ahmad Hadafi Jus, 42 – suffered minor injuries, and were given outpatient treatment at Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital.
A close friend of Ang, who did not want to be named, declined to give more details on the accident.
“Very sorry, right now, it is not convenient to give any details. Our wish now is for Evelyn to wake up. We don’t want this topic to go out of hand.”
The Star today reported comments by a few Klang marathon participants, who said they found the event, which started before dawn, lacking in safety and proper lighting.
Barley Wong said he had serious concerns for his safety as there were only a few traffic cones separating runners from oncoming vehicles.
A woman runner said some parts of the route were dark and passed through areas that were “unsafe”, like a construction site and a narrow alley, where a car drove past her too closely.
Other complaints include a lack of signage, lack of mobile toilets and poor traffic control, leaving runners to cross roads on their own with no one to watch out for speeding vehicles. – December 12, 2017.