Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh today said it was unrealistic to consider Malaysia's achievements at the 2017 SEA Games its best as it had played the role of host that year, days after the end of the 2023 edition of the sporting event which saw the national contingent recording its worst ever performance.
"The SEA Games in 2017 were not realistic because we were the host country.
"So we cannot say 2017 was our glorious time, no. We were host," she said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
At the 2017 SEA Games, Malaysia won 145 gold medals, 91 silver and 85 bronze, emerging as the overall champion.
This year's Games, held in Cambodia, saw Malaysia winning just 34 gold medals, short of its goal of 40.
It also won 45 silver medals and 97 bronze, finishing in seventh place.
Yeoh, the Segambut MP, also attributed Malaysia's lacklustre performance to political instability.
"I have to say this," she said. "Political uncertainty in the last five years.
"Apart from the economy, we see this now. Sports is one of the most glaring outcome of instability that has caused this.
"Previously, there were ministers who were gone in less than a year. They wanted to follow through with the budget and implement strategies, but they couldn't."
Yeoh also said that Malaysia's goal in the SEA Games was not just to win gold, but to train the athletes and prepare them for competition at a higher level.
If winning gold was the main target, she said, the best athletes would have been sent.
"But that is not our goal. If I send Lee Zi Ji to the SEA Games, if he won it would have no meaning because we don't want him to be the best only in Southeast Asia.
"Our goal is to develop the ranks. So the ones that we send, they get the experience and we work from there."