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These Malaysian Sprotsmen Tell Us Why the Govt Won't Fund Your Charity Trip

Typically, people would travel around the world for their own personal reasons but some Malaysians actually do it for humanitarian cause. Just recently, Dr Suwaibah, a Malaysian runner, sparked controversy when she sought RM4 million funding for her Humanitarian Tour to Conquer 30 World’s Tallest Towers.

The former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officer was criticised by netizens because the Defense Minister was reportedly supporting her cause. But, it was reported that since Dr Suwaibah is an icon for RMAF’s sports development, of which the Defense Minister is a patron, it kinda makes sense la if she gets support from the ministry. However, the Defense Ministry reportedly denied that it was funding RM4 million for Dr Suwaibah’s tower run.

Dr Suwaibah (left) and the Defense Minister, Mat Sabu. Img from FMT

But with all the chaos caused online, we can’t help but to wonder why is it so hard to get funding from the govt for a cause that may help those in need. Well, that’s because…

The govt may need to justify why it funds a humanitarian work…

… that is, if the govt funds it la.

We contacted David Wu, a cyclist who travels to the seven wonders of the world to help children with cancer under his program called SevenWunders, who had shared with us his story of trying to get funding from the govt.

David Wu at one of the seven wonders of the world. Img from SevenWunders Facebook page

“I had spoken to a state government head before I started my journey and made an informal proposal to see if I could get some funding. In return, I thought I could help promote a particular state’s tourism, so in that sense, there would be something in it for me and the state. However, the answer (given to me) was a quick “No, the funds cannot be justified.” – David Wu told CILISOS.

He added that rather than feeling dejected, he felt glad that the reply was quick and decisive. He also believed that the govt has limitations when it comes to such funding and that people shouldn’t think that the govt can just give away money so easily to anyone. This is because if the govt starts funding a Malaysian for his/her humanitarian work, then errone wants to be funded too!

Well, take the case of Dr Suwaibah as an example. After the news about her tower run to raise RM4 million came up (with the pic of the Defense Minister, Mat Sabu), many Malaysians online started comparing themselves or other people’s work to hers.

We also managed to contact Soh Wai Ching, the world’s top 5 tower runner, who had questioned the govt’s support for Dr Suwaibah. Similar to David Wu, he told us that his fund application was rejected twice by the Youth and Sports Ministry’s (KBS, not the Korean TV channel).

“I was an intern in a company to do a project for Hari Sukan Negara. With help from my network, I met someone from KBS and brought my boss to meet them. At the same time, I proposed tower running and managed to get a form to fill up funding from KBS. So, I filled up the form and filled up for how much I needed for the last year up til the end of the year. I submitted the form with my proposal and profile and after two weeks time, it was rejected.” – Soh Wai Ching told CILISOS.

This is probably because, under the Sports Development Act 1997 (careful when you click this link as the document will be automatically downloaded to your computer), sports association which isn’t registered under KBS can’t get fund from the ministry.

“(c) such sports body shall not be a member of any body or organization acting as or purporting to act as the governing body of any sport in Malaysia or represent or purport to represent the participants of any sport in Malaysia.”

But in this case, Wai Ching isn’t even under a local tower running association! Which meant the probability of not getting a fund from the ministry may even be higher. And that is also probably why he stated that he wanted for the ministry to recognise him as a national athlete. That’s because…

The govt may fund a specific group of people… like the national athletes

Wai Ching also told us that national athletes are normally supported by KBS based on the competitions they participated in. It was reported that there is a new tier system that determines how much is allocated for each athletes based on their Key Performance Index (KPI).

But how does one even know which tier he or she belongs to? Well, here’s a brief explanation on the tier system:

  • First tier: athletes with proven track record of Olympic and Paralympic participation

  • Second tier: seventeen sports that have won medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games plus 10 Para-Asian sports

  • Third tier: sports contended at the SEA and Para-Asean Games (but only gold medalists who are aiming to compete in the 2019 SEA and Para-Asean games la)

  • Fourth tier: non-competitive sports (this depends on the athlete’s achievements on the international level)

Which means femes athletes like Nicol David and Lee Chong Wei may be categorised in Tier 1. Img from Stadium

We managed to get in touch with one of Malaysia’s hockey player, Nabil Fiqri, who had told us that his team was funded by the National Sports Council of Malaysia.

“Our expenses for championships or training is funded by the National Sports Council. If I’m not mistaken, the fund is obtained from KBS.” – Nabil Fiqri told CILISOS, translated from BM.

However, he was unsure as to how the process to get the fund works.

But athletes like Wai Ching, on the contrary, may be categorised under the fourth tier iffffff he is recognised as a national athlete la. Eh, can’t he just be a national athlete since he achieved world’s top rank??

As it turns out, athletes may need to be under a national association of a certain sports to be recognised as a national athlete. In fact, athletes without a registered association cannot represent the nation, according to the Sports Development Act 1997 .

So, athletes like Wai Ching had to opt for self-fund lor. But how did he do it?

“I am a podium runner and win most of the race (cash prizes) to fund my trip to travel overseas. I also worked part-time as a coach to earn some part time money to cover my expenses in UM and rental. Last year, I had a better progress in tower running and when I win any competitions, I would use that to cover (the expenses of) my next trip.” – Soh Wai Ching told CILISOS.

Soh Wai Ching (left) winning the Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon. Img from Soh Wai Ching

But what if you’re just a traveler like David? According to David, he has friends and a number of followers who believed in his mission.

“Malaysians can be a generous lot but not to the extent where people would just give it (money) to you. I choose a cause which I can relate to and make its case to the public. In return, I reward the donors by telling them stories of my journey through my writings and pictures. Naturally, I can’t persuade everyone to donate and can only hope to do my best.

Fundraising is multifaceted. It’s about dealing with all kinds of people across the board. But more importantly, monies raised for the cause do NOT go towards funding the travels.” David Wu, whose aim is for every Malaysian to donate just RM1 towards underprivileged children who battle cancer, told us.

Actually, David and Wai Ching added that people can also seek funding from private companies. However…

Private companies may want to fund you… if there’s something in it for them

Okay la, if ugaiz end up not getting fund from the govt and you feel like your own money also not enough, you can always opt to ask fund from private companies. However, David told us that it is not easy either.

“I couldn’t even get any Malaysian telco to help sponsor data and roaming services which in reality is quite peanuts in the scheme of things. Perhaps it is not commercially viable but still, two years on the road around the globe and data coverage, what better synergy is there even if it’s just to lend moral support.” – David Wu shared.

Although he shared that he eventually get some companies to support him in cash or kind, he also understood why companies find it hard to fund anyone. He mentioned that although the corporate sector could play a role to help people like him, it also has a responsibility towards its shareholders. But that is an entirely different story for another day.

He said he helped his sponsor through his hashtags. Can you spot some of his sponsors? Screengrab from SevenWunder’s Facebook page

Wai Ching, on the other hand, also had a hard time getting funds from private companies as he claimed that he doesn’t really have a strong network. But he eventually became the brand ambassador to some companies like JomRun (which was one of the first to fund him), Garmin Malaysia and Lifeline ID.

Heck, he managed to secure a sponsorship from Beet It Sport at the time of writing.

Img from Soh Wai Ching

But if you have a business, you may want to consider to fund these people, especially national athletes. And that is because it was reported that companies will be tax exempted if they fund national athletes. Wah!

This initiative was taken to encourage private companies to support local sports as most of them may be reluctant to fund sports unless they receive something in return. In fact, Wai Ching shared that he was informed that this was enacted under the Income Tax Act 1967.

Alright, we know by now some of ugaiz may feel scared to even ask for fund from anyone based on the story we shared but, hey, CILISOS always have your back. 😉 If you still wanna travel like David or Wai Ching…

You may not want to put any expectations on anyone when it comes to funding

David mentioned that since it may be hard to get funding (in general), he said that people may want not want to put any expectations from anyone.

“Those who want to do these things shouldn’t expect anything from the government, if they really wanna do it then approach corporate sector to help fund it if it is of any value to them. (You may want to) Talk to the public, private (companies) rather than the government to seek support. If anything, I don’t think it’s the government’s business to fund personal endeavors even if they are well meaning. Where do you draw the line, otherwise?”

He also wished Dr Suwaibah good luck in her effort to raise the RM4 million for her personal pursuits.

But if you’re more interested to be an athlete like Wai Ching, you may want to prepare a proposal and profile to apply for funds.

“To me it depends on their sport. If their sports have association, prepare a proposal and apply from their association. And (they) can do the same to corporate companies as well. Make sure do let them (companies) know what you can do for them in return.”


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