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KUCHING, June 5: Sarawak Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan today clarified that he was not against watching World Cup 2018 but rather was emphasising on the better use of government funds.
He said the RM30 million needed for airing World Cup matches on national broadcaster RTM could be better used for the development of local or national athletes or to boost rural development in Sarawak since soccer fans could always find ways to watch the global football competition.
“Earnestly, I have no objection against the live telecast of the coming World Cup 2018 football matches simply because I am a true-blue football fan, and it is the right of every football fan to get a fair share of accessing and watching the anticipated matches,” he said in a statement.
But he felt that the money used for airing the matches could, maybe, be used to develop a good football programme to improve the quality of Malaysian football so that the national team could one day qualify for the World Cup.
The money could also be used for the development of national athletes to take over from champions like Dato Lee Chong Wei and Pandelela Rinong, he added.
“I categorically deny the allegations made by the learned Bandar Kuching MP (Dr Kelvin Yii) who had politicised the recent news reports on this matter. It is unprofessional of him to drag everyone else in when the key issue is merely on the exorbitant amount of government or public money to be spent in bringing the World Cup 2018 matches live to every household in the country,” he said.
“It also saddened me to note that YB Dr Kelvin had failed to see that we need funds to boost the development of sports and games in Malaysia, include football. RM30 million can go a long way in achieving such goals and objectives.”
Snowdan claimed that many local football teams were in dire straits and needed financial assistance to settle their debts and to improve their players.
“Together with the rest of local sports fans, I am also saddened by the recent news on the downsizing of the Malaysian contingent for the 2018 Asian Games, to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from August 2 to September 2, due to financial constraints.
“We could have use the RM30 million or part of it to send more of our young and budding athletes to compete with the best in the Asia region,” he argued.
Snowdan said he observed that over the years soccer fans had always been able to find ways to watch football, including watching matches online or joining their friends at coffee shops, restaurants and at other places offering live broadcasts.
“Perhaps YB Dr Kelvin Yii is oblivious to the fact that Malaysians are now well-known to be IT savvy and are well-connected to the World Wide Web (WWW), in which the majority of the population, including local football fans, have easy access to the live-streaming of the coming World Cup 2018.
“Nowadays the trend for people watching live football matches is by going to food courts, restaurants, cafes, hotels, food stalls and many other public places that have big TVs and big projector screens to show the matches.
“On the same note, many Malaysian households are also well-versed and well-connected to the various social media platforms especially Facebook and YouTube, which will also be providing extensive coverage of the World Cup 2018. The matches are also accessible on smartphones”.
Snowdan said he personally could not see any local football fan being left out from the excitement of the coming World Cup 2018 simply because Malaysians were now living in a digital age and everyone was well-connected to each other and with almost everything online.
“If they (government) have already secured RM30 million from private companies for the World Cup 2018 telecast, I think it is good as long as the money is not from the government or public funds that can be used for something else for the benefit of the people, especially those living in rural Sarawak — where there is no electricity, water supply and even roads”. — DayakDaily