Academicians: Youth and Sports Ministry must take fatal incidents seriously and curb them

15 Jan 2023 09:26pm
Screenshots of the fatal accident video - FILE PIX
Screenshots of the fatal accident video - FILE PIX
SHAH ALAM - The high frequency of fatal incidents in unsanctioned motorsports events have set alarms ringing within the motorsports community, with many calling for the government to step in implement controls.

The most recent incident occured on New Year's eve, when a spectator was hit by an out-of-control race car at the Dato' Sagor Circuit in Pasir Salak, with videos showing a clear lack of safety barriers and hazard mitigation.

Academics are calling for event organisers to take the safety of participants and spectators more seriously, including the need to obtain sanctions by the governing body which means a level of safety requirements are ensured.

Universiti Malaya (UM) Faculty of Sports & Exercise Science deputy dean, Dr Mohd Faithal Hassan pointed that the Dato' Sagor Circuit incident was not the first, as it happened just two months after an accident that killed a driver in Gong Badak, Terengganu.

He emphasized the necessity to identify the organiser of the race and whether the organiser had obtained the right to organise (sanction) from the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM).

He said, "If the organiser had the event sanctioned, then it is the responsibility of MAM to ensure that the organiser has met safety requirements such as barriers, spectator safety, race pits and other safety features that meet the standard regulations.

"If this race was permitted (by MAM or KBS), then it is the responsibility of KBS to do a preliminary investigation. Even though the police is also investigating, KBS cannot just let go as if they are not responsible for the incident. If the case of a coach slapping two students was made such a big issue that it attracted the attention of the Youth and Sports Minister, why did the incident involving death not first attract the attention of the minister?" he questioned the authority's response.

He said that whether the event was sanctioned or not, the Youth and Sports Ministry had the authority to instruct investigations to be conducted and action to be taken via the Sports Commissioner's Office.

"This was a sports event, just as the volleyball event was. Thus the minister should answer why a fatal incident wasn't taken seriously, with investigations launched immediately," he said.
You may also like:

From a safety point of view, Faithal perceived the execution of the race at the Dato' Sagor Circuit to be at a relatively low level, where spectators, officials and race crew were exposed to any incident that may occur. He brought up a possible question; was there a safety inspection by the motorsports authorities before the competition started?

Personally, the academician strongly disagreed with a statement that referred to the incident and death as a sudden death, as if the punishment had been passed on the victim while investigation was still ongoing at the moment.

He said, "It is appropriate for the victim's family to seek legal advice to protect the victim's rights and for justice to be served.

"If there was negligence on the behalf of the organisers or authorities need to be held accountable in order to avoid a recurrence of such neglect. It is appropriate for the police to also identify who was behind the organisers of this kind of race because legal action needs to be taken," the sports science faculty member added, noting that if the organisation was not authorised, the race was no different from an illegal street race and as such needed to be treated as a criminal offence.

Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Sports and Recreation lecturer, Associate Professor Dr Mohamad Nizam Nazarudin noticed based on videos shared on social media, the victim was clearly in the circuit area. Hence, why spectators were allowed to be situated in that area while the race was going on, as seating should have been prepared in suitable areas.

In terms of the race execution, Nizam highlighted that precautions needed to be taken during practice and actual race days.

He drew attention to safety aspect involving protective barriers saying, "These are common along vehicle routes - whether public highways, private roads and lanes or race tracks, these protective barriers always have a very specific purpose which is to save lives in two ways; by protecting those behind the barriers and drivers who crash.

"The protective barriers provided by the organiser must be suitable for purpose such as absorbing the impact of the crashed vehicle, reducing the risk of injury and death to those in the vehicle, stopping the movement of stray vehicles into the racing zone and the spectator area, reducing the risk of injury and death to the spectators and trackside staff. Unfortunately in this case, there was no protective barrier provided in the inner part of the circuit area especially where the incident happened, he explained implying that possible loss of life could have been prevented if the organisers had installed protective barriers.

In regards to spectator management, their area needs to be completely separated and protected from the pit and paddock according to the lecturer. "In this case, it is questionable how the spectators could be inside what is supposed to be a restricted area and not in their designated area," he recalled, from viewing the video of the tragedy.

Nizam insisted that restricted areas must be controlled by security personnel and spectators must be strictly prohibited from entering the critically unsafe areas, suggesting the use of signs, fences, ropes or any marker that can help spectators be informed of restricted area. He further explained, "If possible, all participants and spectators should read and sign a Liability Release and Indemnification Agreement letter.

"Since this competition is of a lower standard, the organisers should have stricter SOPs, especially in terms of safety. Organisers need to show if they have complied with the SOP that needs to be followed," he stressed on the responsibility of organisers hoping that they take into account not only the safety of the participants, but everyone involved including spectators and staff.

On the other hand, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said that there will be a press conference by the Youth and Sports Ministry when contacted by Sinar Daily.