PETALING JAYA: Sports associations in the country lauded the appointment of the first woman Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman and are looking forward to a close working relationship with her.
The 40-year-old Azalina, a former committee member of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), was named by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday.
The Umno Puteri leader said: I am aware that it's going to be a huge task. It's a comfort knowing that people I am going to work with have all the experience.
Of course I am surprised over the appointment. I am going to take it one day at a time, said Azalina who is a 5th Dan black belt holder in taekwondo.
Azalina intends to discuss with the PM and also seek advice from out-going minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on the scope of her new post.
OCM secretary general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi welcomed her appointment.
This is the first time a woman has been appointed. She is also one of the few women in the world holding such a position.
It's good to have a feminine touch. More importantly, Azalina has a lot of experience as she was an OCM committee member before.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have requested all sports association to have a 20% women participation in administration by 2005. We have already reached 25% right now. Azalina's appointment will put us in a better light with IOC, said Kok Chi.
Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia, executive director Wong Ah Jit said: It wasn't a surprise. When I was looking at the list of candidates, I had a strong feeling that she was going to be appointed.
I think she is the best person for the job. She is young, vibrant and energetic which is exactly what is needed for the job.
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary S. Satgunam said: It's a pleasant surprise. It's the first time we are having a woman sports minister. We hope she can help reduce the cost for the usage of sports facilities in the country.
Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC), secretary Sidney Tung is another official who is looking forward to meeting Azalina.
We have been working very well with the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Sports Ministry. We hope to have the same support from the new minister. I am looking forward to meeting her, said Sidney.
Malaysian's Women Hockey Federation (MWHF) is hoping that Azalina will assist them in raising the standard of the game.
Its secretary S. Shamala said: It's good news. I have not met the new minister before. But we hope to have her support to raise the standard of women's hockey.
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