PETALING JAYA - Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pic) has responded to critics of now-viral photos which showed young winners receiving mock cheques with small cash prizes during a prize presentation ceremony at his ministry's Junior Cycling Malaysia (JCM) event held last Saturday and Sunday in Serdang.
"Even though I promoted JCM extensively, it only attracted public attention when photos of the prize-giving went viral. Many criticised the amount of money given to winners of the Under-11 and Under-9 events, who received prizes ranging from RM10 (S$3.49) to RM30.
"I admit that the cash prizes were very small. The JCM organisers chose to do this because they felt that it was more important for children to have the interest, the desire to win and experience of participation," said Khairy in a post on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
Khairy added that children would forget the main aim of competitive sports if they got used to winning cash prizes from a young age.
"We want them to grow up with the right values and attitude. Yes, money is important and if they do well in sports, they will be financially rewarded later on but let's not spoil them from when they are young.
"Let them want to win for the sake of winning, to be the best not because of money but because of determination and honour," said Khairy.
Khairy pointed out that all the prizes were also displayed on the JCM website, adding that the presentation of mock cheques at JCM events would be stopped.
"The issue of them not knowing or being unappreciated does not arise. Many parents brought their children without considering the prize money, sacrificing their time because their children are interested in bicycling as a sport.
"They were happily supporting their kids. JCM creates a pathway for champions who want to win because of honour," said Khairy.