SABA president rebuts claims Sukma youth boxers neglected

Datuk Rahman Lariwoo

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, April 7: Sarawak Amateur Boxing Association (SABA) president Datuk Rahman Lariwoo says he has been trying to take care of all of the association’s boxers the best he can.

Rahman who took the helm of the association in 2017 said he has been sending rations to the boxers since then.

“Most of the time, I will do it myself. When I can’t do it, I will get the secretary of the association to do it for me. Or I pass the money to the coach to buy food for them.

“For the last four years, I have never failed to provide them with food rations,” Rahman told DayakDaily.

The money that is used to buy the rations is sometimes from government grants while at other times, it comes direct from his own pocket when government funds run out.

On the claim that the nine Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) athletes are surviving on ‘paku’ (wild ferns) and rice, he said these boxers should have informed him directly if there was anything lacking.

“Let us say if there is a problem, if they don’t have enough food, these boxers and coaches will inform me.

“Why didn’t they inform me and eat only ‘paku’? Most of them have direct access to me,” said Rahman.

In terms of the sudden stop in allowances received by the athletes, Rahman said he has no knowledge of the matter as it is not under his jurisdiction.

DayakDaily today reported that nine young Sarawakian boxers from rural areas have been neglected and left to fend for themselves since February.

These nine athletes were summoned to Kuching and placed under one roof at Sungai Maong for training in preparation for Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) which was supposed to begin on July 11 this year.

However, due to Covid-19, the competition was postponed with these nine youth who hail from different parts of Sarawak — Sri Aman, Sibu, Tatau and Saratok — stranded in Kuching.

Before January, three of these athletes received allowances totalling RM700. All nine of them survived by sharing this little amount they had.

Since February, without being informed, the allowances stopped coming and this put them in dire straits where they had to rely on their Filipino coach who is staying with them to survive.

Often they are forced to live off fried rice and ‘paku’ (which they collect from nearby swampy areas.

When the movement control order came into effect on March 18, these young athletes found themselves under more constrained conditions as the only athlete amongst them who could work part-time was forced to stop completely.

Despite being stranded in the house, the nine athletes however continue their training daily, to make sure that they are fit for competition when Sukma comes. — DayakDaily