Following the National Sports Day (NSD) marathons fiasco about a week ago, the Malaysian Sports Ministry are now insisting that it was a joint agreement by the ministry themselves as well as the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) organiser, Dirigo Events Sdn Bhd.
In case you missed it, on 13th July, the Ministry of Youth and Sports issued a press release to say that #SCKLM2015 has been turned into the flagship event of the NSD and be moved from its initial 4th October date to 10th October for this purpose.
The announcement caught both local and foreign participants off-guard and a public uproar, as participants angrily called on both the #SCKLM2015 organiser as well as the government to undo the decision. This was because the date change has made it difficult for the runners who compete in other runs on 10th October.
A Facebook page dedicated to the petition titled, “Bring SCKLM Back To October 4: Stop Politicising Sporting Events” have been started up to protest the last-minute date change.
Singaporean sports enthusiast Jason Chuang told MMO that he spent about SGD300 (about RM835) for both flight tickets and accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, in preparation for the race. He was quoted by MMO as saying:
I don’t think they will do that, so I already asked for a refund and since my hotel has been booked, I might just change my plan and go for a holiday with my friends instead. I read the comments on all the sites set up to protest against the change, but there is no point complaining. I am just going to be smarter next time and not join this run anymore. I am a little fortunate as I am only in Singapore, but what about those who are coming from much further countries? We forgive, but we won’t forget.
Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin’s Facebook page have also been flooded with accusatory comments. After which, Khairy took to Twitter to say:
Thanks for all feedback re #SCKLM2015. We are looking into the issue with the organisers right now.
— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) July 15, 2015
Also, in a separate report by MMO, Khairy also revealed the ministry and organiser Dirigo Events Sdn Bhd were in talks to hold SCKLM together with the NSD much earlier but it did not take off.
There were some initial discussions but you know…may be a lack of communication. We – the ministry, Dirigo and title sponsors Standard Chartered – reached a joint decision to align the marathon with NSD. Runners are concerned and we take that seriously. Give us some time. We’re actively discussing with organisers to get the exact nature of their concerns.
As for plans to reimburse the runner who are affected by the date change, he said, “We’re not there yet. But it’s important we look into specifics like flight booking and hotels.”
How many of you are affected by the date change? Have you decided on which run you’d go for or will you be cancelling your plans altogether? Do you think that the Ministry of Youth and Sports should make the NSD a month-long event, staggering the runs over the course of a few weekends instead?
Let us know what you think in the comments box below.
UPDATE (16th July, 5pm):
Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin has just updated his Facebook page with an official statement to say that the upcoming #SCKLM2015 has been moved back to its original date, 4th October 2015.
The full statement is as follows:
Statement on the Standard Chartered KL Marathon.
I’ve read all your tweets, Facebook messages and emails regarding the date change of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015. There are a few things I want to clear up.
The National Sports Day isn’t about achieving KPIs or hijacking events. There are noble intentions in what we were trying to do. We were trying to get as many Malaysians from different ethnicities, religions, age, location and walks of life out there as one to do as many sporting activities as possible on one day.
The power of sports to unite people can not be underestimated. When you’re running, cycling, lifting weights or playing football, they person next to you isn’t defined by what they look like, but rather what they’re able to achieve. Not in relation to you, but in relation to themselves. Sports has that power to show you what your limits are and then pushes you to exceed them.
Ten months ago, my ministry launched the Fit Malaysia initiative with this in mind. In that short time, we’ve seen great success in bringing people together. We’ve had tens of thousands of people who might ordinarily not exercise come out to join us in our fitness activities. We’ve had people who might ordinarily not mix around outside their ethnic boundaries come together as one. Everyone who’ve been at the events have been Malaysians.
The National Sports Day is the culmination of the Fit Malaysia movement — one day in a year where everyone gets off the couch, comes out, and does something, not for fitness or sports, but for themselves. To join organised runs like the Standard Chartered KL Marathon or the Spartan Race, dance at the Score FitMob, play football or badminton, or just get out there to your local neighbourhood park with your loved ones and do something.
The National Sports Day is not a political event with a political agenda, like how Teachers Day or Cancer Awareness Month are not. It was to be our step towards becoming a sporting nation and to make sports and fitness part of a Malaysian culture, identity and lifestyle. We are a sports-loving nation but we are nowhere near being a sporting nation.
That was the idea behind changing the date of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. It was a joint decision between the ministry, Standard Chartered, Dirigo Events and DBKL, and for that I thank them for their commitment and support to this national agenda. Not only them, but all the other organisers and partners who’ve pledged to pull their weight to come together on that one day.
It was not to “hijack” their event to artificially boost participation for the inaugural National Sports Day or to achieve my KPI. We were looking for several iconic events all around Malaysia and we realised that there is a hunger for running events, evident from the spots that have been quickly sold out in these events.
I have personally been reading a lot of your comments about the marathon and have held many discussions with the organisers and other stakeholders. We have jointly come to the conclusion that the Standard Chartered KL Marathon will be reverted back to October 4, considering the many issues that have been raised.
On behalf of the ministry, Standard Chartered, Dirigo and DBKL, I apologise for the inconvenience caused by the earlier change in date and I hope that you all will still come forward to support the National Sports Day.