Written by Richard Wee, Fatin Ismail and Nurul Athirah Ja’afar

Introduction

On 15 March 2023, the Ministry of Youth and Sports recently published its first edition of the Safe Sports Code, also known as “Kod Sukan Selamat” (“the Code”). We believe that the publication was likely made pursuant to Section 3(1) of the Sports Development Act 1997 [Act 576] which is as follows:

3 Guidelines in relation to sports development 

(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Minister shall be responsible for providing or issuing guidelines in relation to the development of sports including the long term development programme for sportsperson, coaches and sports administrators and officials at all levels.

The Code applies to all Sports Bodies and any person who is involved in any sports activity as defined under Section 2 of the Sports Development Act 1997. It aims to provide guidelines for a safe sports environment towards athletes against all forms of harassment and abuse within the sports community. It describes the forms of abuse, harassment, violence and security that may occur in a sports environment as ‘Misconduct’, which includes inappropriate behaviours or inappropriate acts either sexually, psychological and physical.

What amounts to ‘Misconduct’ 

The Code elaborates on the scope of actions that amounts to Misconduct to include as follows:

  1. “Sexual harassment” as defined under Section 2 of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022;
  2. “Psychological misconduct” as per the guideline issued by the International Olympic Committee;
  3. “Physical misconduct” as per the guideline issued by the International Olympic Committee;
  4. “Bullying” as per the guideline issued by the International Olympic Committee; and
  5. “Sexual Grooming” as per the guideline issued by the International Olympic Committee;

The Code further cites other relevant Acts of Parliament to include other forms of harassment and abuse recognised in these laws such as The Penal Code (Act 574), Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022 (Act 840), Child Act 2001 (Act 611), Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017, Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Act 685), Employment Act 1955 (Act 265), Sports Development Act 1997 (Act 576), Multimedia and Communication Act 1998 (Act 588) and Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 (Act 711).

Making a Complaint on a Misconduct

Following the contents of the Code, upon receiving a complaint, Sports Bodies are required to manage the complaint in accordance with their respective internal procedures or policies set by their respective international regulatory sports body. In the event that such internal procedures are non-existent, they may refer to the Safe Sport policies issued by the Commissioner of Sports Malaysia.

In furtherance, there are several complaint mechanisms available for any party to report of their experience or awareness of any Misconducts or contravention of the Code, and that all these complaints are dealt in a manner according to the respective procedures of that mechanism. These mechanisms include:

  1. the respective Sports Body; 
  2. the Royal Police of Malaysia (PDRM); 
  3. the Malaysian Olympic Ceremony; 
  4. the Malaysian Paralympics; 
  5. the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development; and 
  6. the Ministry of Youth and Sports 

whichever is appropriate to the said complainant. 

When dealing with any complaints, the Code emphasises the need for privacy of all such information and evidence made in relation to the Misconduct whereby it will be made confidential and undisclosed for every case, unless allowed otherwise by any written law. 

On a separate note, the Code highlights the responsibilities for Sports Bodies to include ensuring that their respective sports environments are safe and conducive, to recognise the Code, ensuring that the basic compliance laid out by the Code and to develop their own Safe Sports Policy to be used as guide and reference. Apart from that, the Code also extensively provides for the roles and responsibilities of the athlete themselves as well as the parents, guardians and coaches within the sports community.

Conclusion

The pivotal role of the Ministry has led into a further development in regulating misconducts that appear within the sports industry and community. The Code further enhances the awareness of the importance in recognising that harassments and abuse take place within the sports community and the importance to have the relevant authoritative mechanism in dealing with these misconducts. 

The entire Safe Sports Code can be accessed here.

Published on 21 March 2023

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

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