National athletes not above law, says Khairy


KUALA LUMPUR: Paralympic athletes representing the country aren’t above the law, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin declared today.

He was responding to a report in Berita Harian that a national paralympic badminton player was nabbed by immigration authorities yesterday while attempting to smuggle his Thai girlfriend across the border.

“If he has breached the law, he must face the consequences, no matter who he is,” he told reporters during a press conference.

Khairy said he had instructed his officials to contact the Immigration Department and stressed the ministry could not be accountable for athletes’ private lives.

“We cannot be responsible for what our athletes do in their personal capacity.

“This has nothing to do with him playing badminton for the country.”

The Malay daily reported the 28-year-old paralympic athlete and 25-year-old Thai national were arrested at 6.30 pm yesterday by immigration authorities at Bukit Kayu Hitam.

The athlete is said to have tried to smuggle his girlfriend into Thailand as she had visited Malaysia under a fake social visit pass.

State Immigration Deputy Director Abdul Rahim Hanaffi said at the immigration post, the man was told to head to the supervisor’s office for further inspections. Instead, he sped off in his Mercedes Benz.

“Immigration officers intercepted his car at the parking lot of a duty-free shopping complex, 500 metres from the immigration checkpoint,” Abdul Rahim said.

Both of them were then detained.