Features of the newly amended Sports Development Act 1997

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The Sports Development Act was passed by Parliament and gazetted on 25 September 1997. It promotes and facilitates the development, administration and registration of sports in Malaysia. In order to achieve these objectives, the Act establishes inter alia the Sports Commissioner’s Office and the Sports Advisory Panel. In brief, the Sports Development Act 1997(“SDA 1997”) was passed by the Malaysian Parliament for the purposes of developing sports. In April of 2018, amendments were made to the SDA 1997. In this article, we wish to highlight five (5) major changes to the SDA 1997.

 

1. The introduction of the National Paralympic Committee

The Sports Development Act (Amendment)2018 (‘Amended Act 2018’) formally acknowledged the National Paralympic Committee (NPC). The Amended Act now includes:

Section 9A of the Amended Act 2018:

(1) The Paralympic Council of Malaysia is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee as the National Paralympic Committee for Malaysia.

(2) The Paralympic Council of Malaysia shall be responsible for ensuring that the participation of Malaysia in the Paralympic Games, Asian Paralympic Games and other international athletics competitions is in accordance with the rules and regulations of the International Paralympic Committee, Asian Paralympic Committee and other international sports bodies to which the Paralympic Council of Malaysia is affiliated.

 

Section 9B of the Amended Act 2018:

(1)The Malaysia Deaf Sports Association is recognized by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf as the National Deaf Sports Federation for Malaysia.

(2) The Malaysia Deaf Sports Association shall be responsible for ensuring that the participation of Malaysia in the Deaflympics, Asia Pacific Deaf Games and other international athletics competitions is in accordance with the rules and regulations of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, Asia Pacific Deaf Sports Confederation and other international sports bodies to which the Malaysia Deaf Sports Association is affiliated.

 

Currently the governing body for the Paralympic Games is the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) which is affiliated with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) based in Bonn, Germany, Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) and ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF). A few of PCM’s objectives include developing awareness among disabled people that sports promotes a healthy, active lifestyle and builds self-esteem as well as to foster close relationships and mutual understanding between the disabled and the general community by extensively promoting disabled sporting events. PCM now caters for categories of disabilities including those who are Visually Impaired, Hearing Impairment, Amputees, Mentally Handicapped, Spastics as well as Dwarfs.

Section 9A  of the Amended Act 2018 recognises the formation of PCM in Malaysia. Section 9B in addition, specifically recognises the Malaysia Deaf Sports Association, which deals with athletes that have hearing impairment.

The addition of PCM to the Sports Development Act could not have come at a better time, with the recent success of Malaysia’s Paralympians at the Rio Paralympics 2016. The acknowledgement of this committee augurs well for the sports and creates a new  administrative platform to regulate paralympics in Malaysia.

 

2. The Amendment of Section 12

Section 12 of the SDA 1997 has been amended in regards to the quantum stated therein:

Section 12 of the Amended Act 2018:

(2) Any person who—

      (a) fails to comply with the direction of  

           the Commissioner under subsection (1)

     (b) discloses any information which is

           known to him to be false; or

     (c) produces a report or document which

           is known to him to be false

shall be guilty of an offence and hall on conviction be liable to a fine not less than five thousand ringgit but no more than fifty thousand ringgit or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both

 

The new Section 12 amended the quantum of fine which can be imposed on any person who breaches this section. As we can see, Section 12 of the Amended Act 2018 regulates information and documentation with the Sports Commissioner. The primary purpose of Section 12 is to increase the penalty for the offence of not complying with the direction of the Commissioner, disclosing false information or producing false report, from the present fine of not exceeding five thousand ringgit to the proposed fine of not less than five thousand ringgit but not more than fifty thousand ringgit.

 

3.  Formation of the Sports Disputes Committee

The Amended Act 2018 thoroughly amended the outgoing Section 24 of the SDA 1997. The new Section 24 reads as follows such:

Section 24 of the Amended Act 2018:

Where a dispute cannot be resolved in accordance with the internal procedures referred to in section 23, any member of a sports body or a sports body itself may refer the dispute to the Sports Dispute Committee for decision.

24A. (1) Any member of a sports body or a sports body who is aggrieved by the decision of the Sports Dispute Committee may, within twenty-one days after the decision has been communicated to the member of the sports body or the sports body, appeal to the Minister.

(2) The Minister may confirm, reverse or vary the decision of the Sports Dispute Committee.

(3) The decision of the Minister under subsection (2) shall be final.

 

The new Section 24 in the Amended Act 2018 provides for the formation of  a new sports tribunal to manage disputes arising from any member of a sports body or from the sports body itself. This is consistent with the universal trend around the world where central sports tribunals are formed to manage sports disputes. The new Sports Disputes Committee (“SDC”) is a welcomed layer in the realm of sports administration, providing an opportunity for the sporting community to refer conflicts to a dedicated national tribunal.

 

4.  The abolishment of the Sports Advisory Panel

The Amended Act 2018 thoroughly amended Section 27 and Section 28 of the SDA 1997.Formally, Section 27 and 28 relates to a sports advisory panel, but that has now been replaced by the Sports Disputes Committee (SDC).

Section 27 Amended Act 2018:

(1) (1) There shall be established a committee to be known as the “Sports Dispute Committee” which shall have the responsibility to hear and resolve disputes referred to it by any member of a sports body or a sports body itself under section 24.

(2) The Sports Dispute Committee shall ensure that sports bodies and other parties to a sports dispute including athletes be given an affordable, just and speedy means of resolving a sports dispute.

 

The outgoing Section 27 dealt with the Sports Advisory Panel. The Sports Advisory Panel constitutes the final avenue to check all irregularities without fear and favour for the best development of sports in Malaysia. The function of this Panel is to advise the Sports Minister on all matters in relation to sports matters, for the purposes of duly administering and enforcing this Act; and/or advise the Sports Minister on any matter referred to it by him/her.

Section 27 of the Amended Act 2018 explains the structure and personnel in the SDC. Like any other tribunal, the SDC shall consists of a chairperson and a few other members. This can be seen in Section 28 of the Amended Act 2018, which reads as follows:

Section 28 Amended Act 2018:

(1) The Sports Dispute Committee shall consist of the following members to be appointed by the Minister:

       (a) a Chairman;

       (b) two members who, in the opinion of the Minister, have experience, qualifications or   

            have shown capacity and professionalism in matters relating to sports, or to be

            otherwise suitable for appointment because of their special knowledge and skills; and

       (c) two members as the Minister deems fit.

 

(2) The Chairman and members of the Sports Dispute Committee shall hold office for a period not exceeding two years and shall be eligible for reappointment.

 

(3) The members of the Sports Dispute Committee shall be paid such remuneration and allowances as the Minister may determine after consultation with the Minister of Finance.

 

(4) The office of a member of the Sports Dispute Committee appointed under subsection (1) shall be vacated-

       (a) if he dies;

       (b) if there has been proved against him, or he has been convicted on, a charge in

            respect of-

                       (i) an offence involving fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude;

                      (ii) an offence under any law relating to corruption; or

                       (iii) any other offence punishable with imprisonment for more than two years;

 

       (c) if he is of unsound mind or is otherwise incapable of discharging his duties;

 

       (d) if he absents himself from three consecutive sittings of the Sports Dispute Committee

            without leave of the Chairman or in the case of the Chairman, without leave of the

            Minister;

 

      (e) if his resignation is accepted by the Minister; or

 

      (f) if his appointment is revoked by the Minister.

 

(5) Where a member appointed under subsection (1) ceases to be a member of the Sports Dispute Committee, the Minister may appoint another person to fill the vacancy and any person so appointed shall hold office for the remaining period.

 

(6) The Chairman or any member of the Sports Dispute Committee may at any time resign from his office by giving notice in writing to the Minister.

 

(7) At any proceedings of the Sports Dispute Committee the quorum shall comprise not less than three members, including the Chairman, and in the absence of the Chairman, any member present at the proceedings may be elected as Chairman by the other members present.

 

A point to note is that unfortunately, any decision that is made by the SDC may be confirmed,reversed or changed by the Minister (Section 24A(2)). We shall append further thoughts on this issue in another article.

 

5.  The ‘Evelyn Ang’ provision – Section 36 Amendment

Evelyn Ang, a marathon runner, was hit by a car while taking part in the Klang International City Marathon in December 2017. She suffered serious injuries and was in a coma for a few months. Unfortunately, Evelyn passed away on 1st March 2018. Evelyn’s accident was one of the main reasons why the SDA 1997 was amended, with the additions of Subsections 4 and 5 to Section 36 of the Amended Act 2018. The glimmer of light that was sparked by this tragedy is the effort to improve the safety standards of marathons and sporting events in Malaysia.

The new Section 36 of the Amended Act 2018 was drafted to impose accountability on companies which organise sporting activities. These section under Section 36 are an addition to subsection (1),(2) and (3).

Section 36 of the SDA 1997:

(1)  A company shall not involve itself in any sporting activity or in any other activity related to sports, as may be prescribed by the Minister in the regulations, unless it is licensed to so so by the Commissioner.

(2) The license referred to in subsection (1) may be subject to a fee and such conditions as the Commissioner deems fit to impose.

(3) The Commissioner may, on being satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for doing so, revoke the license issued to a company under this section after giving that company an opportunity to make representations to him.

 

Section 36 of the Amended Act 2018:

(4) Any company which contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine of not less than fifty thousand ringgit but not more than five hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

(5) Where an offence under this section has been committed by a company, any person who at the time of the commission of the offence was a director, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the company or was purporting to act in any such capacity or was in any manner or to any extent responsible for the management of any of the affairs of the company or was assisting in such management-

  • may be charged severally or jointly in the same proceedings with the company; and
  • where the company is found guilty of the offence, shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence unless, having regard to the nature of his functions in that capacity and to all circumstances, he proves –
  • that the offence was committed without his knowledge, consent or connivance; and
  • that he had taken all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

 

 

Conclusion

Over and above these five amendments that have been highlighted, there are several more amendments that have been made to the SDA 1997 which we have yet to address. However, it is to be noted that these amendments are positive in nature and may add value to the administration of sports and particularly, the formation of the Sports Dispute Committee.

 

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