Syed Saddiq: We'll discuss concerns raised about new OCM COO's hiring

Modified 8 Oct 2019, 11:13 am

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) is an independent body and as such the Youth and Sports Ministry does not interfere with its operations, said its minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

However, he told Malaysiakini that he was aware of the grouses and criticisms directed at the OCM over the hiring of Michelle Chai for their newly-created post of chief operating officer (COO) at a rumoured monthly salary of around RM30,000.

"Just yesterday so many people messaged (about the hiring) and I was on calls with a few of them. I take their concerns into serious consideration. I understand where this is coming from and we need to resolve it."

This comes after a number of prominent sports officials such as former OCM secretary-general Sieh Kok Chi and National Sports Council director-general Zolkples Embong slammed the hiring process which they said was not transparent.

They also said the OCM had carried out an expensive study which made no mention of the need to create such a position, let alone make it such a highly paid one.

To add to the background of Chai's hiring, six months ago she was not among the six shortlisted candidates. 

The process was scrapped when it emerged that one of them - Ung Su Ling - had been the former CEO of Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (described as 1MDB's charity arm) and had also worked in an asset management firm where she handled investments for fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho.

Syed Saddiq made it clear that the OCM was an independent body.

"I hope you understand my position. I can't just take action. As the minister, I need to try my best not to directly interfere with the role of the OCM."

He cited examples of other countries where political interference from the government led to punitive action from the International Olympic Committee.

"Normally, we just assist them marginally but they’re mostly independent," he said.

"I think the best way to resolve it is to bring it to the roundtable and to have a dialogue about it," he added.

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