Lee Zii Jia resignation: Sports minister lacks leadership, says Steven Sim

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Lee Zii Jia resignation: Sports minister lacks leadership, says Steven Sim
Lee Zii Jia resignation: Sports minister lacks leadership, says Steven Sim

Former deputy youth and sports minister Steven Sim Chee Keong today criticised the ministry's current leadership over the resignation of national badminton player Lee Zii Jia, an incident which he said showed that the country's sports crisis is worsening.

Sim, who is Bukit Mertajam MP, said the Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu had been silent about issues surrounding the welfare of athletes and the development of the country's sports industry.

He urged the National Sports Council and National Sports Association to step up and assume Faizal's role to put a stop to the crisis.

"Up to this day, the youth and sports minister had chosen to stay quiet about athletes welfare and development of sports in the country.

"But on the other hand, the same minister was very quick to defend the MACC chief commissioner when the latter was implicated in a controversy involving his ownership of shares.

"The NSC and National Sports Association have to step forward and fill the gap due to the absence of the minister's leadership. In this situation, the council and association have to take drastic actions to stop the country's sports industry crisis, including in the issues involving Lee and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)," Sim (below) said in a statement.

It was reported that Lee had tendered his resignation from BAM on Jan 11. BAM president Norza Zakaria who confirmed the resignation said that Lee “couldn’t take the pressure and wants to achieve his dreams at his own pace.

Lee, who is the top national shuttler, is ranked seventh in the world by the Badminton World Federation.

The 23-year-old Kedahan won the All England Open men’s singles in March 2021 after a nail-biting showdown with Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.

Sim said he agreed with BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann's comment that Lee's resignation was a big loss for BAM.

He said the sports ministry should take a step back to see what had gone wrong and led to the top shuttler quitting BAM despite them having invested so much on Lee.

"I am worried that if there are internal issues that remain unaddressed, BAM might lose more of its players.

"Leehad quit BAM when the country was still facing a crisis which saw 253 national athletes sacked, and reduction of allowances by more than 50 percent for athletes who are still under training contracts.

"Several main national athletes also had their training contracts terminated or chosen to retire for good. This is the worst crisis in our country's sports arena and can cripple Malaysia's sports performance if the minister continues to fail in taking the appropriate measures," he said.

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