Keynote Speech by YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth & Sports
at RWY Sports Law Conference 2015
Opening Speech by the Minister of Youth and Sports
at the RWY Sports Law Conference 2015
3 December 2015
1. I would like to express my thanks to Messrs Richard Wee & Yip for inviting me to give this speech at their annual Sports Law Conference. I understand this is the third edition of this event. I recall in 2013, Messrs. Richard Wee & Yip did invite me to officiate the first ever RWY Sports Law Conference but I was unable to make it as I had a prior engagement. The Ministry was well represented by the Deputy Secretary-General, Dato’ Harun Bin Che Su. I was informed that the inaugural conference was very well received by members of industry.
2. I am happy to attend such a unique and timely conference. The conferences that I usually attend as Minister of Youth & Sports tend to general youth issues, or more rarely around the improvement of high-performance sports. I understand that the primary purpose of organising and hosting this Conference is to create awareness of the importance of Sports Law in the Sports industry, but that this conference in part isn’t restricted to that. With the range of matters that will be discussed today, I think that this Conference will go beyond that and try to come up with answers to some of the most pressing issues in sport, both in this country and beyond.
3. I understand that Sports Law isn’t restricted to the Sports Development Act, but I’ll start on that first, before moving on to touch on the policies that my Ministry have put in place for sports development and how sports law can play a role in this. The particular act that governs sports development in this country is the Sports Development Act 1997, as I’m sure all of you know. The aim of this Act is to promote and to facilitate the development and administration of sports in Malaysia. It spells out the roles of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Sports Commissioner and the Sports Advisory Panel. It also defines the role of the Minister, in deciding on international sports events, in the case of disputes, sports science, and a slew of other things. In 1997, the Sports Development Act was a fantastic piece of legislation in an attempt to streamline sports in Malaysia. Over the years, it has helped to put us on decent footing as we aimed to develop sports through agencies under the Ministry and sports associations through the Olympic Council of Malaysia.
4. However, there are parts of it that require amendments in keeping with issues we’ve identified, and how the nature of sport has changed over the years. For example, there are sports associations in this country that haven’t changed their constitution since Independence, despite being asked repeatedly to do so by the Sports Commissioner’s Office. There are associations that bid for international events, win it, and then come to the government asking for money. In many cases we are forced to help out for national interests and to ensure the country does not lose face. There are associations that can’t be investigated and enforced by us in the event of non-performance, internal problems or even corruption.
5. Some of the more specific issues follow. The Sports Development Act was established to take over the Registrar of Societies role on Registration and Governence of Sports Bodies in Malaysia. When sports bodies transfered their registration to the Sports Commissioner, within 6 months all Sports Bodies should have changed their old constitution to the new constitution based on the guideline issued by the Sports Commissioner. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Many sports bodies have archaic constitutions which lead to many disputes and governance issues. The Sports Development Act does not give power to the Sports Commissioner’s Office to order sports bodies to change their constitution.
6. The Sports Development Act does not give the Sports Commissioner’s Office the power to audit governance and financial statements of sports associations. If the office bearers of that association approve financial misconduct or malfeasance, there are no powers invested in the Commissioner to do anything about it. There have been several cases of that in just the last few years alone.
7. Too may sports associations are being created at the moment which hampers sports development because it stretches our limited resources with too many layers within the associations. Many associations have the National-State-District-Club-Individual structure, which in many cases infeasible because of the number of layers required. Many district associations are not active, and this hampers sports development thru associations. The Sports Development Act also currently caters for too wide a range of sports under the First Schedule of the Act; Martial Arts and ‘Recreational’ being an example.
8. We spoke to a range of government agencies, academic experts, sports lawyers, former athletes, sports associations and others in coming up with amendments to the Act. These are the more obvious reasons why amendments to the Act have to be made. Notwithstanding reasons above, there are few less apparent ones.
9. Firstly, the Paralympic Association of Malaysia is not currently given recognition under the Act. Paralympics and the development of sports for the physically challenged is an area that we’ve really looked at the last few years. One of my first acts as Minister of Youth and Sports was to ensure that physically challenged athletes got the same incentive bonus for winning medals at international events as normal athletes. We’ve also set up the Inspire programme to find and train physically challenged athletes at the grassroots level. The ASEAN Para Games starts today in Singapore, and I’ll be there over the weekend. The Paralympic Association getting equal recognition under the Act is imperative to me in moving forward.
10. As you know, doping is currently a hot topic, not only in Malaysian sports but all around the world. In the last year alone, we’ve seen cases involving the world number 1 in badminton, the International Association of Athletics Federation, the Champions League, the Tour de France, just to name a few. This is a worldwide issue. We’re taking this very, very seriously. We have adopted a culture of zero tolerance in this. We’re acting in a few ways. Firstly, we want to strengthen the relevant agency, ADAMAS (Anti-Doping Agency of Malaysia) to ensure that they’re able to test more athletes, when they’re training and just before they go to international competition. We will recognise ADAMAS officially as a body that is in charge of anti-doping through the Sports Development Act. We will also move towards ADAMAS having their own Parliamentary Act to strengthen it even further as an independent agency. Earlier this year, sports associations signed the Acceptance of ADAMAS Anti-Doping Rules and we want to ensure this is enforced.
11. It would also be amiss to not mention the Kuala Lumpur Centre for Regional Arbitration, with the Director Datuk Sundra Rajoo here. The KLRCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Court of Arbitration for Sports in 2012. The Malaysian Sports Arbitration Tribunal is also to be formed, with it being an option if both parties in dispute decide to use it. We’re also in the midst of looking to form an internal tribunal for sports association disputes that will allow the Minister to send cases their way, in case the Tribunal under the KLRCA is prohibitively expensive. This tribunal will be chaired by an ex-judge, and will include two other people who are experts in their field. That proposal is currently with the Sports Advisory Panel, and we’re looking to put this in to the Sports Development Act amendments.
12. I also want to touch on other policies that we’re looking into, that will have further spillover effects on Sports Law. Last year, my Ministry launched a new campaign called FitMalaysia. We’ve done 15 events in that time. We've covered the length and breadth of Malaysia, and have seen hundreds of thousands of Malaysians come out to run, ride, practice martial arts, take part in our physical challenges, get nutrition advice, eat healthy food, or just dance. We've also seen the inaugural Hari Sukan Negara take place this year, that saw more than five million Malaysians take part in more than 17,000 activities all around the country. Malaysians of all stripes, from all walks of life. The aim of these campaigns are to create awareness for the need of a healthy lifestyle. We want Malaysians to keep fit and be active.
13. But there’s also a very important secondary effect to what we’re doing. More Malaysian involved in sports and physical activities means more Malaysians thinking about sports as a career. Professional sports itself is a huge industry around the world. Just look at the prices the best footballers in the world command when they’re bought. Manchester United is worth $3.5 billion. Michael Jordan is worth a billion dollars.
14. Our nascent sports industry is currently worth around RM5 billion, or around 0.5% of our GDP. But all you need to do is look at the number of sports shops there are around, and the number of rides and runs happening every week. I myself almost take part in some run or ride on a weekly basis. We’re seeing incredible growth here. Therefore, it is imperative that the sports industry is properly and accurately managed. This is where services such as sports marketing, auditing and a strong legal framework can be components to ensure the sports industry is transparent and accountable.
15. Sports Law is the term used to describe the application of law in the world of sports - a combination of corporate and contract law, tax and real estate planning, intellectual property law, insurance, labour law and alternative dispute resolution. In some occasions, the law of tort also comes into play. The ever-growing interaction between sports and the law gives rise to the need for a special and greater understanding of the sports industry and those related to it. Legal compliance with existing legislation and rules has also become more important in this day of technological advancement and commercialization in sports. Conferences like this play a role in making sure that these discussions come to the forefront. For that, I applaud Messrs Richard Wee & Yip.
16. I also understand that Messrs Richard Wee & Yip wish to launch a Malaysian Sports Law Association. I applaud their effort and I believe this is something the sports industry will receive warmly. With the formation of such an association, parties involved in sports and lawyers who practice sports law would have a platform to share views, collaborate and hopefully push Malaysia into becoming a sports law hub in this region. I believe we have the legal expertise to offer sports law services not only in Malaysia but also to the sporting community in ASEAN.
17. In 2017, Malaysia will host the SEA Games 2017 with Malaysia celebrating her 60th year of independence. The SEA Games will be a good way to unite our people in our chase for glory. I also hope that our hosting of the SEA Games is used as an opportunity to develop sports law. Hopefully, when 2017 comes around, we will be champions of the SEA Games, and leaders in sports law in South East Asia.
18. I wish to congratulate Messrs Richard Wee & Yip again for successfully hosting the 3rd Sports Law Conference. I wish all of you a good conference ahead.
Minister of Youth & Sports
3rd Dec 2015