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Safety first

  • Having the law alone is not enough; the ministry needs to make sure the law is fully implemented and complied with and all applications are vetted carefully.

Sin Chew Daily

The mishap involving a car ramming into the crowd causing severe injuries to three runners during the Klang City International Marathon last Sunday was a sad incident.

The organizers were later found not to have applied for a permit for the event while participants slammed the organizers as being inexperienced and lacking in basic safety measures.

The unfortunate incident has since sparked tremendous concerns over the safety of participants and spectators during a marathon event.

Well-known marathons held in many cities worldwide have lured the participation of runners and marathon enthusiasts from around the world, and such events have indeed become distinguishable brands of the host cities, including Boston Marathon.

Economic spinoffs from marathon events have been enormous and consequently cities around the world have rushed to organize their own events, including Malaysia.

The marathon fever has taken the country in a big way in more recent years. Other than several better known events in KL and Penang, many private business organizations have also hosted marathon events of varying scales. Many participants have even come with their whole families in what has become a truly fashionable sporting activity in today's world.

Most of the marathons in the country have been held on public roads during a time the traffic is relatively light. Occasionally roads are sealed off during the tournament for the safety of participants.

Route planning and safety specifications therefore become supremely critical. In the Klang event, there have been reports that there was on-going road construction along the route with insufficient warning signs, posing a serious threat to the runners.

On the application of permit, the organizers claimed that they had secured the approval of the Klang municipal council. However, according to the national sports commission, any marathon event organized by the private sector must be approved by several departments, including the police, the local authority and the sports commission.

The organizers in Klang had apparently failed to obtain the approvals from all three parties, which is a very irresponsible act.

Sports commissioner Zaiton Othman said she discovered that some private sector organizations had in the past organized marathon events without the greenlight from the national sports commission, meaning many of these events were actually illegal although there were luckily no untoward incidents during the events.

The sports commission must therefore look into this matter very seriously from this moment on.

Youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin said his ministry intended to amend the law by making it compulsory for event organizers to apply to the relevant authorities to ensure adequate funding as well as safety, adding that heavier fines would be imposed on violators.

Having the law alone is not enough; the ministry needs to make sure the law is fully implemented and complied with and that all applications are vetted carefully.

Strict adherence to the law is to ensure that the organizers are capable of hosting the events instead of stressing only economic gains at the expense of the participants' safety.

Indeed marathon is a healthy recreational and sporting event, and we must never allow a handful of irresponsible people to spoil the image of the sport.



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