Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Malaysian police plan to quiz Hallmark

Nicol David wins her eighth world title in 2014
Nicol David wins her eighth world title in 2014

Police probe follows World Championship fiasco in KL

By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor

Malaysian Police say they want to interview the Hallmark Events Group after the promoters had told players that security problems were the main reason for the cancellation of the Women’s World Championship in Kuala Lumpur

In the latest article published by The Star, KL deputy police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Law Hong Soon said the Hong Kong-based Hall­mark Events Group should have sought their advice before citing security concerns for the problems surrounding their promotion of the tournament.

IMG_9355“What they have done is very irresponsible,” he told a press conference at city police headquarters. “They should have come to us before claiming that it is unsafe.

“We have opened investigation papers on them. We want to know who told them it was unsafe and how they came to that conclusion.”

The tournament was scheduled for KL between December 11 and 18. Early rounds were planned for the Nicol David Arena at the Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, with a glass court believed to have been planned for the finals sited at a city centre location near the Petronas Towers, although no confirmation of this had been made public.

The PSA have revealed that they are holding an independent inquiry into the shortcomings of the event planning. This is likely to show that insufficient checks were carried out to confirm that funding was in place for prize money and staging costs.

Most players had paid for flights that included both Hong Kong and Malaysia. Astonishingly, several players claimed that they had booked their own hotel accommodation in KL. Normally, the provision of hotel accommodation is part of the contractual obligations of the promoters laid down in the PSA tournament contract. 

Laura Massaro won the world title in Penang
Laura Massaro won the world title in Penang

A penalty clause for failing to deliver such a high-profile event would normally be part of the contract. However, it is understood that the Hallmark Group had attempted to recover their deposit from the PSA citing the same security concerns that have angered the Malaysian government.

The Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, had accused Hallmark of a “preposterous blackmail” attempt and said they had failed to raise sufficient sponsorship to stage the event.

He told The Star: “In the email they sent, they said they can proceed with event next week if the Malaysian government can provide sponsorship, including RM3.5mil ($850,000 US), for private security arrangements,” said Khairy.

“I do not appreciate that, being blackmailed by the organisers in using the issue of security and painting Malaysia in a bad light when a large part of the reason why they decided to postpone this was because of sponsorship.

“This is preposterous, absolutely preposterous. I’m not going to be blackmailed by an international event organiser.”

This is the second time in three years that the Women’s World Championship has been cancelled. The 2013 event was held over until early 2014, when Laura Massaro won the event before huge crowds in Penang.  

Nicol David lost to Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini in the semi-finals but bounced back to claim her eighth world title in Cairo in December 2014 when she fought back from match ball down to beat Raneem El Welily in the final. 



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