Perikatan Nasional (PN) today challenged the explanation of Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh for the country's lacklustre performance at the recent SEA Games, saying other countries embroiled in political instability could still succeed in sporting events.
Pasir MAS MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari asked why countries such as Kenya, Cuba, and Serbia where he said the political situation was worse than Malaysia's could perform better in sports.
"I think that many people do not understand this statement," he said, referring to Yeoh's explanation at a press conference on May 19.
"If we look at some countries like Kenya, Cuba, and Serbia, their political situation is not as stable as ours, but in terms of sports, they do well," Fadhli, the PN Youth chief, added.
Yeoh earlier defended her statement that political instability was to blame for the athletes' failure to achieve their gold-medal target at the SEA Games in Cambodia.
Speaking during the Minister's Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat, she added that this was only one of the factors at play.
Fadhli however interjected, saying there were countries at war which still performed well in sports.
"The Palestinian football team is ranked higher than Malaysia's," he said.
"So the question is, if the minister says political instability affected our performance in sports, what will she do in the future to make sure that whatever happens in the political arena does not affect sports, which belongs to everyone?"
Yeoh, the Segambut MP, responded by saying that the countries listed had not participated in the SEA Games.
"Over the past four years, we have changed prime ministers three times, and we have had three youth and sports ministers," she said to an additional question from Fadhli.
"There was also a change of board members, budget, and focus. Since May 2013, the minister at the time, Khairy Jamaluddin, had 61 months to prepare.
"In July 2018, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had only 20 months to prepare before the Sheraton Move.
"After that, Reezal Merican (Naina Merican) had 18 months and Peja (Ahmad Faizal Azumu) had 16 months.
"We have to acknowledge that after the Sheraton Move, all efforts to help the economy and education were interrupted due to political instability."
Yeoh also said that Malaysia, which participated in 41% of the events, had managed to achieve its target of bringing home 141 medals in total.
She said the country's athletes had bagged 175 medals in all, only failing to reach their target of 40 gold medals by a margin of six.
"This time around, Cambodia decided not to hold several events that were expected to have given Malaysia 18 gold medals, and to introduce traditional sports which contributed 91 gold medals to the country," she added.
"As host, it also listed imported athletes and changed some rules regarding age levels, which narrowed Malaysia's chances of reaching its medal target."