The Star reported today that 261 officials (or one for every 2.33 athletes) will attend the regional sports event — officially starting on Friday — but another 338 VIPs and observers have also been accredited to join the Malaysian contingent.
The newspaper said this is Malaysia’s largest delegation to biennial games held abroad.
“The question is how many from this group are making the trip at the taxpayers’ expense? The VIPs alone outnumber the 48 people from Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and National Sports Council (NSC), who will actually be doing some work at the secretariat in Jakarta and Palembang.
“But what are auditors and State financial officers doing with the contingent? A study tour perhaps or maybe a shopping trip? Wouldn’t the money be better spent on the young athletes to gain exposure under Category B?” the English daily wrote.
Of the 608 athletes, 253 of them are under Category B which means they are paying their own way.
The newspaper also noted that there will be 45 observers for athletics — dwarfing the 14 officials overseeing the 48 track and field athletes.
“We at the OCM do not object if sports enthusiasts want to go for the Games but they must be transparent about their funding. We do not condone people using public funds without proper justification,” it quoted Olympic Council of Malaysia general secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi as saying.
Malaysia is targeting 40 gold medals for the games, the same as the 2009 edition in Laos and far lower than the 68 it won in Thailand in 2007.