‘What have you done for Malaysia’s diving scene?’ Abd Karim lambasts MAS, Low

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Abdul Karim gestures while speaking in the press conference. — Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Feb 14): Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today came to national diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong Pamg’s defense after she faced criticism from Malaysia Aquatics (MAS).

He expressed his disappointment with MAS secretary-general Andy Low, who had belittled Pandelela by saying she gave many excuses after she did not qualify for the Paris Olympics 2024.

“Talking about the person who has contributed to the country, and making sarcastic remarks such as they (athletes) only linger on for their salary is akin to praising them when they are performing well and criticising them when they don’t do well.

“I find it distasteful. I also don’t really know this Andy Low,” he told a press conference at Baitulmakmur II here today.

Abdul Karim said he will leave it to Pandelela on continuing her career as Malaysia’s diving athlete.

“Personally, if she is still enthusiastic about the sport and being involved competitively whether it is the Olympics or not. if it’s not the Olympics, it could be for the Asian Games or SEA Games. If she still wants to, we cannot stop her.

“I was only disappointed when Low said Pandelela only ‘makan gaji’ (take her salary). No doubt the athletes ‘makan gaji’ but for Pandelela personally, I think she could get more if she was not an athlete.

“With her achievements, she could get more as a coach. There’s no need for officers like Low to belittle the athletes, especially those from Sarawak. Who is this Andy Low? Has he represented Malaysia? Has he been a sportsman?,” said Abdul Karim.

The minister further questioned MAS’ efforts in grooming successors for the diving sport.

“What has Andy Low and MAS been doing about the successors? If only Pandelela has been around since over 10 years ago, that means MAS has not been doing anything.

“What have you been doing for the last 10 years? How many years have you been the secretary? I am questioning MAS — for now, you’re just criticising athletes who have just contributed to the country. I want to ask MAS, especially Andy. What have you done in trying to groom the people to continue in the sport of diving?,” he said.

Abdul Karim said MAS has fallen short by relying solely on Pandelela in diving throughout the years and stressed the need for broader development.

“There needs to be a reform, especially in national sports. Ib the last Sukma in 2021, there were no women in diving sports. How do you expect athletes to be produced when even in the national sports there are no women divers. What went wrong?,” he said.

On Tuesday, two-time Olympic medallist shared on her social media that she will take the good with the bad from the Doha championships to progress in her career.

Pandelela’s post appeared to be in response to an article quoting Low who accused divers of making excuses for not securing Olympic spots in Doha.