Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said on Facebook that the country’s two Paralympic gold medalists will get the same RM1 million reward as their able-bodied counterparts. He said that in the past, para-athletes only received 30% of what their counterparts win at the Olympics. The minister felt that this was not a fair policy and decided to push for change.
Malaysia clinched two gold medals, their first-ever gold, at the on-going Paralympics. Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi won at the 100m T36 event with a time of 12.07s while his compatriot Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli also took the top spot at the shot put F20 with a distance of 16.84m distance.
In Singapore, Olympic gold medallists stand to win $1 million in reward while para-athletes get $200,000.
In 2008, when asked about the disparity in reward between para-athletes and athletes, PAP MP Mr Teo Ser Luck said:
“One of the things that we have to look at is that the Olympics competition level is actually quite different. The Olympics competition is a free world competition. Paralympians can join Olympics. Olympians cannot join Paralympics. That is one thing you look at – the level of competition.
Secondly, the base of competition within the Olympics is a lot broader and the base of competition for Paralympics is smaller and is segmentised because Paralympics is based on the disabilities which are classified differently. So that is a different scale of competition.
Thirdly, I wanted to explain that the cash award given to the Olympians is not Government funded. It is the private sector. It is from the Tote Board. For Olympians, they have that cash award for several years already, and for Paralympians, it is only recently. They have managed to get the cash reward by soliciting or getting the support from the private sector and the Tote Board. So they have started somewhere. It is a good first step compared to previously, when there were not any cash awards as well. I think we will continue to monitor and review, and see what is necessary to give them more support.”