PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said he wants youth football chief Lim Teong Kim's tax-exempted salary of RM175,000 (US$42,000) to be re-evaluated after his squad failed to qualify for the Under-17 (U17) World Cup.
The national Under-16 team coached by Lim failed to get past the Group A competitions after losing 2-0 to Japan at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 Championship on Thursday (Sep 27).
Lim was sacked as the U16 coach, but retained his position as director of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) although this, too, could be reviewed.
"I was informed that his salary package every month reaches RM175,000 which is fully funded by MSN (National Sports Council) ... his contract and those of the top management of NFDP should also be reviewed," said Syed Saddiq at a press conference.
The U16 squad was formed under the NFDP, which was set up to develop youth football in the country. Lim was appointed as project director of NFDP in 2013 and subsequently assumed office as director of the Mokhtar Dahari Academy in 2016.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME NEEDS 'RESTRUCTURING'
Syed Saddiq also said that the NFDP needed restructuring. There have been reports that the new government could shut down the programme, which was a brainchild of former sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Syed Saddiq said that RM80 million had been spent on NFDP programmes since 2014, not including for constructing the Mokhtar Dahari Academy in Gambang, Pahang.
"After tens of millions of dollars are spent, we (football) are still here. It is clear that there should be restructuring and we cannot say we are in a safe or comfortable position," Syed Saddiq said.
He pointed out that while the NFDP was promised an allocation of RM20 million each year, the amounts it received were much less.
In 2014, its first year, NFDP received RM10 million, before the funding was steadily reduced to RM7 million (2015) and RM3.5 million (2016 and 2017).
"I cannot blame everything on the NFDP because of financial constraint, but I am intrigued despite the financial constraint, it still pays RM175,000 every month (Lim's salary)," he said.