By Shane Stokes
With the time continuing to tick down to the scheduled start of the 2007 Tour de Langkawi, the current confusion relating to who will organise the race should be settled early this week. A government decision was expected last week but the Malaysian Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said will now make her pronouncement on the future direction of the 2.HC event after the outcome of a special meeting of the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) to be held today [Sunday].
Tension has been high within the MNCF since an EXCO meeting in September saw the board back the appointment of Red Revolution Sdn Bhd to be involved in the running of the race. This decision was then reportedly given a green light by the government appointed taskforce overseeing the event, which was put in place due to the financial difficulties experienced during the past two editions.
The disagreement over Red Revolutions appointment is due to the fact that many of its personnel came from First Cartel, the previous organisers. While MNCF president Abu Samah Wahab, most of the board members and the UCI itself are understood to have agreed to Red Revolutions involvement some of the payment for which would be used to settle the final debts remaining after the governments RM3.4 million (approximately 730,000 euro) buyout earlier this year MNCF president deputy president Datuk Mohd Naim has taken a different line and has clashed with Abu Samah Wahab over this.
Naim was not present at the EXCO meeting where the original vote was taken and has been campaigning since then for a different organisational structure to be put in place. It is understood that some of those involved in running the Tour of Britain are his preferred choice.
The battles within the MNCF and the resulting negative articles in the national press have frustrated Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman and she recently issued an ultimatum to the federation to get its house in order. It will endeavour to do so at Sundays special meeting, where its National Committee members (comprising cycling heads representing Malaysias nine states) will come together, discuss the issue and vote on the direction to be taken.
Datuk Azalina Othman has stated that she will await the outcome of this meeting before making any decision. It has been suggested that if the MNCF fail to reach agreement, the overall organisational rights given to them by the government might be rescinded. However this possibility plus the large injection of funding promised for cycling should surely be enough of an incentive for some consensus to be reached.
See also: 2006 Tour de Langkawi.