Fatal Incidents: Act now or more will die, Bastien tells HannahARNAZ M. KHAIRUL
25 Jan 2023 08:00am
Carnage at the Gong Badak Circuit in Kuala Terengganu in October, where a driver was killed when his car ran into a tree in the run-off area at an unsanctioned drag race event.
Bastien said Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh should also be consistent in taking strong action against adverse occurences in sports, as she did in engaging the machinery of two ministries and calling for swift investigations into the case involving a volleyball coach who slapped his players last month.
"There is no reason for the minister to turn a blind eye on these cases now, as they involve fatalities and there are allegations that the Youth and Sports Ministry themselves had supported some of these unsanctioned motorsports events.
"Surely Hannah, as the minister responsible, can at least call for an internal investigation to find out whether this is true and she can take immediate action. Stop the ministry's involvement in any such events," said Bastien.
Bastien was responding to revelations made by Federal Territory Motorsports Association president Shahrol Yuzy Ahmad Zaini that there were unsanctioned motorsports events, bereft of adequate safety measures.
Yuzy alleged some organisers were politically connected, with some events even supported by the Youth and Sports Ministry, while police too were said to have issued permits allowing such events to take place.
"As she did with the volleyball coach, where she engaged the Education Ministry to conduct thorough investigations to clamp down on such actions, I see no issue here with Hannah engaging the Home Ministry and getting the cooperation of police to stop issuing permits for such events, at least momentarily while proper policies are outlined," said Bastien.
"I agree with Yuzy on the need for an understanding of sanctioning. Yes, there is a cost to everything. But motorsports being dangerous as it is, with the safety and lives of participants, spectators and members of the public at risk, there needs to be standards in place to ensure safety is not neglected.
"If it is true that there were political links to allow such events to take place in total neglect of safety, then the politicians involved should know they have blood on their hands," he said.
Bastien said there were valid reasons as to why motorsports events needed to be sanctioned and if organisers believe cutting costs at the expense of safety was the way to go, they should not be allowed to organise motorsports events.
"This is where sanctioning must be imposed. It is for the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM) to ensure that at least minimum safety standards are met. Looking at some videos of these fatal incidents, it was clear for all to see that safety had been severely neglected. There was not even basic safety infrastructure.
"There should be no shortcuts in ensuring safety at motorsports events, as it is clear they can easily result in fatalities, in some cases innocent spectators who were there just to enjoy watching the action," said Bastien.
The latest fatal incident at the Dato Sagor Circuit in Perak on New Year's Eve, saw an out-of-control vehicle veer off the race track and plough into spectators standing in an unprotected area, killing one spectator, while in October at a drag racing event in Gong Badak, Terengganu, allegedly supported by the Ministry, a driver was killed after his car ran into a tree in the run-off area.
Hannah has thus far only said that she would be issuing a statement once police investigations were concluded, while Perak police chief Datuk Mohd Yusri Hassan Basri said they were in the midst of completing investigations as they will call witnesses.
Mohd Yusri added that the police were waiting for reports from doctors on the post-mortem of the case which tops their priority list as it had received attention from all parties; the ministry and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
"Hannah, as the Minister, must be seen to be taking this more seriously. If there is no immediate action from her, the next event might be on the way and we may have more fatalities. She cannot just remain quiet. I suggest she takes a break from creating TikTok content and put a bit of focus on this," said Bastien.
Bastien added that it was quite evident that motorsports has been embraced by the youth, thus it was the responsibility of the Youth and Sports Ministry to ensure they were given safe options that would attract them to pursue motorsports seriously, instead of racing illegally on the streets.v
Hon Thien How, the national women's doubles head coach, stressed the normalcy of ups and downs in doubles partnerships. - FILE PIX by Bernama
Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh when met by reporters after the signing of an MoU between UiTM and the National Sports Council at the Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Chancellery building, today. - Photo by Bernama