DAP to Minister: Criminals are given “Datukship”, but not our champion athletes?

Abdul Aziz Isa

By John Isaac

DAP has taken a Minister to task over his statement that it was not good to always reward an athlete each time he or she won something.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had made the statement with regards to national diver Pandelela Rinong for securing Malaysia’s first-ever gold medal at the Fina Diving World Cup.

Abdul Karim had also said that he received phone calls from people asking if the state would accord Pandelela – a two-time Olympic medalist – with a Datukship in recognition of her sporting achievements, similar to several other renowned national athletes.

“My reply was, she’s only 28 years old, don’t spoil her. I mean can you imagine someone in their 20s having a Datukship? It will be very difficult for her to interact normally outside – when you got friends outside, they call you ‘Datuk’ and things like that,” he had said.

“Is it wrong to reward our athletes for making tremendous contributions to our country? Is it wrong for someone in their 20s like Pandelela to be given a “Datuk” title?

“We have seen some prominent figures in this country who received “Datuk” titles in their 20s but not all of them are making this country proud,” said Abdul Aziz Isa, the DAP Batu Kitang chief and Stampin Dapsy chief.

He pointed out that some of them were even charged for their involvement in organised crimes and fraudulent, dodgy companies.

The 28-year-old Sarawakian became the only athlete to contribute a medal to the Malaysian contingent in the five-day tournament. — Bernama pic

Some of their achievements are unknown to the public but they are somehow given the “Datuk” titles.

Even our Federal Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rina Harun once said that “such titles are not stumbling blocks that prevent us from serving the people”

“So, there is nothing wrong to bestow the “Datuk” title to Pandelela. The vexing issue here is not about whether Pandelela should be awarded with “Datuk” title or not. It is about Karim’s statement.

“If the state has no plans to bestow Pandelela with a “Datuk” title, so be it but is the statement even necessary in the first place?”

Abdul Aziz said Karim’s statement has received brickbats by the vast majority of the public.

“I would like to say that such a statement is unbecoming and a huge embarrassment for Sarawakians, judging from his position as the state Minister of Youth and Sports.

“How can the state Minister of Youth and Sports come up with such a statement?”

He said the state government could try to come up with some ideas to encourage more young Sarawakians to participate in water sports activities, organise more water sports competitions to produce more athletes and to improve water sports facilities throughout the state.

He said the government could also work to create a state-owned water sports academy and make water sports as a profession.

“It would be nice if Karim gives his support and produces positive statements instead of being negative and discouraging.

“I would like to advice Karim to improve on his public relations in future and stop making negative statements that damage our sports industry,” added Abdul Aziz, who is also a special assistant to Sarawak DAP chief, Chong Chieng Jen.

DAP Serian chief, Brolin Nicholsion meanwhile said age should not be a factor to express one’s appreciation, especially so for someone like Pandelela who has been making the nation proud for the last 15 years.

He also pointed out that many title holders did not even deserve it and did nothing for the people nor the country.

“Doesn’t Abdul Karim realise that. In the political arena, many politicians have been given titles and do not even deserve it. Why shouldn’t someone like Pandelela who has brought glory to our country be rewarded?”

He added that Pandelela was surely matured enough to know what is important and to remain focused.

“This is proven in her records since a young age. She is till today, humble and remains consistent in her achievements,” he added.