Sunday, February 23

Over 100 teams for dragon boat race

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Goh (fifth left) extends the invitation to Juhar, while Wong (fourth left), Yong (sixth right) and others look on during the courtesy call yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Over 100 local and international teams are expected to participate in the first Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2014 at Likas Bay on June 7-8.

Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin will also grace the occasion on June 8 as the guest of honour.

Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) president Dato’ Sri Dr T.C. Goh said 94 teams have confirmed their participation, which exceeded the 75 number of participation in the previous dragon boat race last year.

“We expect seven more teams to register. We are confident that our international dragon boat race will exceed 100 teams,” he said in a press conference here yesterday.

Of the 94 teams, 13 are international participants who come from Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines and Australia.

Asked why there was no participation from China, Goh said it was due to time constraint as the federation was only given two months to organize the event upon its appointment as the race organizer by the State Government in March this year.

Nevertheless, he said FCAS would invite dragon boat teams from China to participate in the race next year, which was tentatively set on June 13-14, 2015, subject to confirmation.

He said the lack of participation from China was not due to the missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.

In addition, Goh confirmed that the first Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2014 scheduled to be held on June 7-8 this year would take place as announced earlier.

He was responding to Sabah Chinese Cultural Association’s (SCCA) statement that the 29th Sabah Dragon Boat Race that was supposed to be held at Likas Bay on June 7-8 this year has been cancelled.

In the statement issued on Monday, SCCA apologized for the cancellation of the 29th Sabah Dragon Boat Race, which the association had initiated and organized for the past 28 years since 1986.

SCCA said the State Government had proposed to co-organize the dragon boat race with the association in 1990 to promote mutual understanding and tolerance among different races, and the State Government had agreed to bear all expenses.

Since then, the event has been co-organized by SCCA, Youth and Sports Ministry and the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry until 2013.

According to media reports, the State Cabinet had accepted the proposal by the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry on March 12 this year to appoint FCAS to organize the dragon boat race.

SCCA contended that they had not been consulted when FCAS passed a resolution to apply for the organizing rights of the dragon boat race from the State Government on June 30 last year, nor was SCCA informed when the assets of the race, including dragon boats, were handed to FCAS on March 31 this year.

In response to this, Goh said the organizer had received a number of calls asking if the dragon boat race has been cancelled.

“The first Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2014 on June 7-8 has never been cancelled and we are here to confirm that no less than 100 teams will be participating in the race,” he said.

He reiterated that FCAS was appointed by the State Government to organize the dragon boat race and the federation had named the event as the first Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2014.

“Those who appointed us also handed us dragon boats, life jackets, paddles as well as gave us full support in terms of financial and manpower,” said Goh.

The assets received from Sabah Tourism Board (STB) included 20 units of dragon boats, 20 units of drums, 400 pieces of life jackets, 400 pieces of paddles, 20 pieces of steerer oars, 20 dragon heads, 20 dragon tails and 20 IDBF licences for the dragon boats, all of which amounted to RM684,000.

Although the assets were purchased by the State Government, SCCA argued that they ‘belonged’ to the Sabah Dragon Boat Race Committee, and thus should not be handed over to a third party at discretion.

To this, Goh said the assets were handed over to the federation by STB but it was not the federation’s responsibility as to where STB obtained the assets.

On the safety aspect, Goh assured that all dragon boats, paddles and life jackets were kept by a contractor with licence for ship building.

He said FCAS continued to engage the contractor to carry out maintenance on the dragon boats, and thus the boats would meet international requirements.

In addition, Goh said six of the 20 dragon boats had been used for training at Gayang and Sutera Harbour Resort daily, and there had been no problem so far. The remaining 14 dragon boats were being painted in preparation for the race.

Furthermore, Goh said Datuk Balwant Singh Kler, an internationally certified dragon boat expert, was appointed as the race director to ensure the event complied with international rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, organizing chairperson of the dragon boat race, Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, said the response to participation had been very encouraging.

Of the 94 participating teams, 21 are all-Chinese teams, including seven teams vying for the FCAS Trophy open to local Chinese community associations under The United Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu (USCCA) only.

“Kinabalu Dragon Trophy (all men teams) has the highest number of participation with 17 teams, while Kinabalu Dragon Trophy (mix teams) has 10 participating teams,” she said.

Wong added that the Sabah Head of State and Sabah Chief Minister Trophy have recorded nine and seven participating teams respectively.

On the other hand, five teams from Sabah, Singapore, Kuching, Kuala Lumpur and Australia have registered for the Breast Cancer Survivor Race, she said.

The first Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2014 will kick off with the sportsmen oath taking ceremony at Likas Bay on Saturday, June 7 at 7.30am, followed by heats for various categories.

The highlight on June 7 will be the FCAS Trophy for the USCCA mix teams final race at 9am.

On Saturday evening, there will be a welcoming dinner for all participants starting at 6pm. The event will be graced by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Apart from dragon dance, singing and other dancing performances, there will be a prize presentation ceremony for the winners of the FCAS Trophy for the USCCA mix teams.

The programme for Sunday, June 8 starts at 8am with the final race for Kinabalu Dragon Trophy Men’s Open, Kinabalu Dragon Trophy Mix Team, FCAS Trophy for Chinese Mix Teams, Sabah Dragon Trophy for International and Malaysian Mix Teams and Kinabalu Dragon Trophy for Junior Boys under 20.

Juhar and his spouse Toh Puan Hajah Norlidah Datuk R.M. Jasni are expected to arrive at 10.15am, after the arrival of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman and Masidi.

There will be a 24 Chinese drum performance and zong zi (rice dumpling) offering ceremony to open the event, after which the race continues with the Breast Cancer Survivor Trophy, FCAS Trophy for Chinese Men Teams, Chief Minister Trophy for Malaysian Men Teams and Sabah Head of State Trophy for International and Malaysian Top Teams.

Prize presentation ceremony for the winners is expected to commence at noon.

Also present at the press conference was FCAS deputy president Datuk Jimmy Yong Kyok Ming.