As the Chairman of the Malaysia Organising Committee for the 29th SEA Games and 9th ASEAN Para Games, YB Brig. Gen. Khairy Jamaluddin has been busy preparing for the historic occasion. Add to this his ministerial responsibilities, and it’s surprising he manages time for anything else, let alone a sit down with Vision KL to discuss the upcoming Games and what fans can expect!
Fondly known as ‘KJ’, the Oxford-educated, former journalist is full of enthusiasm when it comes to discussing the sporting mega-event catchily nutshelled as KL2017, which will coincide with both the nation’s 60th Independence Day and the 54th Malaysia Day.
The last time Malaysia hosted the biennial multisport affair was in 2001, where it emerged as the overall champion, and he has set the bar similarly high this year.
“I have been very clear on our goals for KL2017 right from the beginning. We want to organise the best ever SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, win the overall champion title for the SEA Games and at least a second placing for the ASEAN Para Games. But in the lead up to that, I want the entire nation to unite in supporting and celebrating our athletes,” says the affable Minister.
To foster this camaraderie, the ‘Rising Together’ theme was adopted, a proponent he feels signifies the coming of age for Southeast Asia as a community.
“Kuala Lumpur 2017 will be an important milestone in the ASEAN region as it will be the first SEA Games and Para ASEAN Games to be held after the formation of the ASEAN Community in 2015,” he notes.
This will serve as further proof that sports play a crucial role in bringing citizens of Southeast Asia together to celebrate their achievements and commitment towards sportsmanship, while helping to uplift the region.
When it comes to the athletes, his hopes are that they view the Games as more than just a platform to showcase their sporting prowess and win medals.
While KL2017 will provide a stage upon which athletes, especially younger ones, can gain international exposure, it should also help to establish connections between participants and audience, highlighting the ASEAN spirit of unity in diversity.
Passing The Baton
Helping to fuel the Southeast Asian communal spirit and spread awareness of the Games is the newly introduced Rising Together Baton Run – the first ever event of this nature to be organised by a host country in the history of the Games.
Making its way across 10 capital cities in the Southeast Asian region, the run has so far received overwhelming response from participating nations, drawing much attention and publicity.
The two-month event will see it making landfall in Malaysia on 14 May, kicking off a Torch Run that will travel the length and breadth of the country until 12 August, just a week before the commencement of the SEA Games.
With up to 13,000 volunteers needed for KL2017, a comprehensive curriculum has been put in place to prepare those who sign up. The aim was to get the involvement of as many Malaysians as possible and to expose them to the core values of volunteerism.
“We created a special programme called the ‘WAU Factor’ to attract people from all walks of life to positively contribute to the volunteer network and ensure the smooth running of the Games,” the Minister reveals.
“Those with the ‘WAU Factor’ will have all the attributes required of a good volunteer – positivity, dedication, commitment and bravery.”
On an amusing side note, the programme’s name is wordplay on the wau bulan, the traditional crescent-shaped Malaysian kite that also appears on the KL2017 logo!
Another aspect the Minister is keen to touch on is the upgrading and improvement of infrastructure and sporting facilities for KL2017.
“The indoor stadium of the KL Sports City will be renamed the Axiata Arena. Even after the Games, I envision this venue to be a top destination for major music and sporting events not just in the country, but in the region as well. This will be a world-class facility of sport, entertainment and culture that will showcase the nation’s strong potential in digital assets and infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, the new Velodrome being constructed in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan will play host to major international events after the Games this year, such as the Asian Federation Cycling Road and Track Championships in 2018.
A Green Games
A key component in the Minister’s vision for the Games is the pledge to host a green Games and to help promote environmental appreciation.
“KL2017 hopes to inspire a change of behaviour of all its stakeholders, including fans and volunteers, in championing environmental sustainability. Additionally, we are also planning to draw up a Sustainability Policy and Guidelines framework and provide carpooling services, bike-sharing and electric car facilities at selected spots during the Games,” he affirms.
When asked what he’s most looking forward to himself, there is no hesitation in his answer: “As the Minister of Youth and Sports of the host country, I will be watching every sport that is out there with complete excitement!”
Interestingly, he is also hoping to be more than just a spectator; the Minister has been training hard with the national polo team and is waiting to hear from the Royal Malaysian Polo Association on whether or not he will make the cut!
If his glowing track record is anything to go by, our guess is that we’ll be seeing him out there come August. Meanwhile, plans for KL2017 are right on schedule and his promise to put on a great show for athletes, officials and sports fans alike, is one you can be sure he’ll keep.
“With the support and commitment from all involved, I am confident that we will be able to stage a successful event that will capture the imagination of the entire Southeast Asia population.”