Malaysian Ministers told to get out of sports admin

Malaysia's Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries have been barred from holding posts in local sports organisations, sparking an administrative shake-up in the country's sporting groups, particularly football. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gave the order at a Cabinet meeting, saying it is meant to spare top government leaders from being burdened with too many responsibilities, officials at the Youth and Sports Ministry told AP anonymously.

Youth and Sports Minister Azalina Othman Said stressed that the decision would not undermine the associations. "Leaving their posts does not mean (the ministers) cannot be actively involved in sports," Bernama news agency quoted Azalina as saying. "They can still continue to serve their associations in other capacities, like adviser or patron."

Deputy Commodities Minister Anifah Aman, a Vice President of the Football Association of Malaysia, has announced he will also relinquish the post of Sabah FA President. One main factor behind the [Prime Minister's] decision is the fact that the schedules of ministers and deputy ministers are very tight. In my case the reasons I am still holding the post are firstly, because Sabah FA had debt problems which I inherited but which we have settled since. Also the budget to run the football association amounts to RM5.5 million (a year) and people are (thus) reluctant to take up the post," he told Daily Express.

According to him, he had already intended not to seek re-election at the East Malaysian state FA's annual general meeting scheduled for September and Secretary Harry Baking said Anifah's decision was a big blow. "He has contributed a lot to the association especially in financial matters," he said. Anifah has been Sabah FA President since 1995 when Sabah won the FA Cup and proceeded to win the Malaysian Premier League.