PETALING JAYA - Kelantan's recent act of barring male spectators from netball tournaments will cause Malaysia to slide further down the path of extremism, said the Centre For A Better Tomorrow, a NGO championing moderation.
According to the NGO's co-president Gan Ping Sieu, the regressive move would only serve to usher the country down a path of extremism and intolerance.
"Banning males would deny the athletes of support from some family members.
"In some cases, these sportswomen may not be able to get on-the-spot pointers from male coaches or friends, hence preventing them from reaching their full potential.
"Gender discrimination will also hamper efforts to promote sports as a healthy activity," he said in a statement yesterday.
Gan also questioned whether male paramedics, doctors, team personnel and security would be allowed at the venue.
"During the Islamic Solidarity Games, open only to member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, held in Palembang, Indonesia, last year, no such rule was enforced.
"Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, also has no plans to put in place similar rules during the championship there," he said, arguing that if Kelantan does not rescind the order in time, Malaysia risks becoming an "international laughing stock".
"It is downright foolish to enforce such segregation when anyone can watch sporting events on television or have access to morally-objectionable content on the Internet.
"It will also set a dangerous precedent which may be extended to other sporting events or other facets of life, such as activities in recreational parks," said Gan, a former Deputy Youth and Sports Minister.
He roundly criticised PAS for its rigidity when it came to sports, adding that when he was deputy minister, there had been suggestions from the party's lawmakers to build females-only sporting facilities.