THE national silat contingent checked into their hotel ahead of the Sea Games and immediately earned criticism from chef-de-mission Datuk Naim Mohamad over their reduced target and claims of biased judging to be a certainty. The team, who delivered four gold medals in Laos two years ago, have set a two-gold medal target -- but officials believe even that depends on the hosts rather than the performances of their exponents.
(From left) Maslinda Zakaria, Kamilah Sulong and Norafizah Ariffin are given assistance by Indonesian usherer Mega Mustika to register themselves at the Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta. — Picture by Yazit Razali
Team manager Ismail Syed Mohamad and his team cannot help but admit that despite coming into this Sea Games on the back of one of their best performances in the four-gold medal drive in Laos two years ago, they've come with a humble target of two gold medals.
"We have been in this situation before, in Jakarta in 1997, when we returned without a single gold medal. In silat, it would be difficult to beat the hosts no matter how good our exponents are," said Ismail.
Hinting but stopping short of confirming biased judging in favour of Indonesian exponents will be what they expect when the silat competition begins on Saturday, the squad nevertheless expect a number of their exponents to at least make the finals.
"Their first job is to get to the finals. Even then, we can't say that we can expect gold medals. In the World Championships this year we had 10 exponents in finals and only won four of the bouts," said coach Mazlan Shaari.
The team will parade three of the four Laos Sea Games gold medallists in Mohd Hafiz Mahari in Class A (40 to 50kg), Mohd Fauzi Khalid in Class F (70 to 75kg) and Emy Latip in the women's Class C (50 to 60kg) in this edition.
Naim voiced his disagreement with the silat squad's stance, stating their claims of biased judging even before the competition began, was uncalled for.
"Nobody can claim such things unless it has happened in competition. If it does happen and we can prove it, then I will personally lodge an official complaint with the organisers," said Naim.
"But this is not the right attitude to have. We cannot go into any competition thinking we will lose because we expect the judging to be biased. This is simply unacceptable.
"We first have to look at the panel of judges and if the selection of judges in the panel does not reflect biasness towards the hosts, we should just carry on. It this case, from what I've seen, I don't think it shows that."