KUALA LUMPUR: Sporting organisations and the private sector should assist the Government in fighting the negative perceptions certain countries have about Malaysia, said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein.
“Organisations like the Olympic Council of Malaysia have good connections with their foreign counterparts and should be proactive in promoting the country and telling them that Malaysia is safe,” he said after opening Universal Fitness and Leisure Sdn Bhd’s new building, Wisma UFL, in Taman Perindustrian Kepong near here yesterday.
The recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak and travel advisories by several European countries, the United States and Australia on the threat of terrorism in Malaysia resulted in several international world sporting events being threatened with cancellation, postponement or relocation.
Some events such as the Kuala Lumpur World 5's Futsal (five-a-side indoor football) tournament, scheduled for next month, have also seen a drop in participation as teams began withdrawing.
Admitting this is a worrying trend, Hishammuddin said such perceptions were totally unfounded.
“It is obvious they are scared of their own shadows, as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, and judging from their travel advisories, they don’t know the real situation on the ground at all,” he said.
He said he would make every effort to ensure that all events organised by his ministry were held as planned.
“We will see if replacements can be found to take the place of teams which withdrew from the Kuala Lumpur World 5's,” Hishammuddin said.
There should be efforts, he said, to make sure that these events went on because they would be broadcast over television worldwide and this would help the rest of the world see that Malaysia was safe.
On the high cost of equipment for extreme and adventure sports, Hishammuddin said his ministry could help request for a review on the quantum of taxes placed on such items.
“Companies as well as other groups involved in such sports should also come together and urge the Government with one united voice to review those taxes,” Hishammuddin said.
He added that they should convince the Government that it could reap high returns from developing these sports.
Earlier in his speech, he said his ministry's current agenda was based on five areas, namely the implementation of the Gemilang 2006 programme, development of sports as a mass activity involving all sectors of society, promotion of sports as an industry, development of sports as a career and development of new sports for young people.
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