Budget cuts lead to athletes not getting allowance

Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman

KUCHING: Federal budget cuts have resulted in national athletes not getting their allowance.

Minister for Youth, Sport and Entrepreneur Development, Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah told the media this after his ministerial winding-up speech at the DUN sitting on Wednesday (May 25).

Some athletes from Sarawak did well in competitions, hence they were given higher allowance, he explained.

“Some received RM400 to RM500 and some even up to RM8,000, so it varies.

“I do not know why they have become victims of this, even if they are podium finishers. These athletes, especially the new ones, aged 18, 19 and 20, competed and some won medals.

“They have trained from morning until night to improve. If we look at it, it’s like they do not have a life, and it is right to give them allowance and pocket money,” he stressed.

Abdul Karim also mentioned that he had met with Sarawakian athletes and was told the amount of allowance had been cut.

“When we met them, they said their allowance had been cut by 20 per cent, so this gives an adverse effect to our athletes.

“For example, if they get RM7,000 allowance, and if cut it in half, they still have RM3,500 to spend at least.

“If they get only RM1,500 and we cut it in half, they only get RM750. They trained in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur and to live there, even with accommodation and food provided, it is not enough.

“So this issue has caused a public outcry,” said Abdul Karim, adding that the federal government had reinstated the allowance but not to the full amount.

As for Sarawak, before the allowance was reinstated, he had discussions with the state government to solve the problem.

“I believe the athletes are quite happy with the federal government’s decision to reinstate the allowance. For any Sarawakian athlete competing in major tournaments like the Olympics, SEA Games and others, we do give them allowance on our own incentive.

“Before or while they are at the tournaments or they manage to secure a podium finish, they will be given incentive from the state.

“Take for example, (diver) Datuk Pandelela Rinong and (para weightlifter) Bonnie Bunyau Gustin. They secured medals for Malaysia at the Olympics and received RM1mil incentive each.

“The state also gave them RM500,000 each, half of what the federal government gave.”