KHAIRY: BE GRACIOUS HOSTS
Sports minister reminds fans to cheer for their teams and not jeer others
THE Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and the sports ministry have asked Malaysians not to jeer Singapore swimming sensation Joseph Schooling when he competes in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it was important to maintain a positive outlook on the issue to avoid tarnishing Malaysia’s reputation as great hosts of the biennial games.
“Let’s not dwell on this too much, it is important to remember that Joseph Schooling’s mother is Malaysian,” said Khairy in a press conference after launching the Sea Games main media centre in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“I do not think he meant any malice in the statement, as (OCM president) Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar said the games is a celebration of Southeast Asia and I do not want any negative perception to come out from hosting the games.
“No booing, no jeering. That is not what the Sea Games is about. Tensions will run high, cheer for your team but don’t jeer others.”
Olympic champion Schooling had angered Malaysians when he said: “I think it will be nice to go to Malaysia’s backyard and teach them a thing or two” in a television interview with Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia on Aug 1. Joseph later downplayed his comment, claiming it was taken out of context.
Tunku Imran, who is also the Sea Games Federation president, said it is important for Malaysia to show Joseph the respect he deserves.
“I was at the Singapore Sports Awards on Tuesday and had a long chat with Joseph. He is a very nice person and is not arrogant at all. He is very upset that he has been taken out of context,” said Tunku, speaking during the same press conference today.
“I think it is important we give him the honour of being the current (sporting) icon of Southeast Asia.
He is the only Olympic gold medallist from all Southeast Asian countries at the moment which is something we should be proud of.
“We do not want any ( jeering) incidents such as at the World Athletics Championships recently, I do not want that frame of mind.”
American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who was twice banned from the sport for doping offences, was jeered on various occasions during the World Championships in London earlier this week.