Waiting for the Safe Sport Law to be tabled in Parliament will be a lengthy process and there’s no time to waste in protecting Malaysia’s athletes from sexual harassments, abuses, and other misconducts.
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Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh wants to implement a Safe Sport Code instead of tabling a bill in Parliament.
Her reason for codifying it is so that athletes can be quickly protected since waiting for the bill to be tabled in Parliament will take a long time.
Having it codified means it could be implemented as early as March, Malay Mail reported.
I’ve just decided that we would go with a code simply because we have existing legislation and I don’t want to confuse our stakeholders, I don’t want to delay having to address safe sports.Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh
However, Yeoh said the decision to codify Safe Sport is still being studied and chances are it could still be tabled as a Bill if the Task Force overseeing the matter decides otherwise.
Previously, there was a need to have a Safe Sports Law because the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act was not yet tabled in Parliament.
Hannah explained that we should give these existing laws a chance, identify the weaknesses, and make improvements from there.
On top of having the Penal Code, the Employment Act and the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, adding a Safe Sport Law might make things more confusing in a legal case.
What’s Safe Sport?
Safe Sport is a movement initiated by the International Olympic Committee with the aim to provide athletes with safe, supportive, and healthy environments to train and compete in.
The committee defined Safe Sport as an environment which is respectful, equitable, and free from all forms of harassment and abuse.
Over in Malaysia, the pressure to enforce Safe Sport was embodied by Safe Sport Malaysia (SSM) led by former gymnast, Sarina Sundara Rajah.
Sarina collaborated with other groups to draft the proposed Safe Sport Law.
There have been sexual harassment and abuse cases in the local sports scene, which led to the urgent need to have a law to protect all athletes.
Athletes such as national diving champion Pandelela Rinong shared that she had been sexually harassed by a former coach and she also had to endure sexual jokes from the same person for seven years.
The coach was caught for rape seven years later.
Just last month, a male coach was caught on video slapping a volleyball player.
The incident sparked controversy and a debate with a few groups, including the athlete’s father, attempting to downplay the issue.
The coach’s license was eventually suspended after an investigation by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
Where has the Safe Sport Code been adopted?
A number of countries, including neighbouring Singapore, have adopted the code.
Known as the Unified Code in Singapore, the categories of misconduct listed under it do not only include sexual misconduct, but also physical and psychological misconduct and “other inappropriate conduct or misconduct related to process.”