Online petition launched to reverse ban on Zii Jia, Jin Wei

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An online petition has been set up in support of national badminton stars Lee Zii Jia and Goh Jin Wei, following their two-year ban from representing the country in international tournaments.

The online petition hosted by Avaaz was started by a user named Badminton M on Jan 21, calling for the lifting of the ban on the duo.

At the time of writing, the petition had garnered a total of 119,462 signatures.

The petition said it was to offer support to both Zii Jia and Jin Wei and to show the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) that Malaysians and badminton fans around the world are against the decision.

Zii Jia himself caught wind of the petition and shared it in his Instagram story.

It was reported that Zii Jia’s ban started from Jan 18 after the national No 1 resigned from BAM.

Zii Jia is currently ranked No 7 in the world by the Badminton World Federation.

As for Jin Wei, BAM barred the former junior world champion from international meets for two years from Oct 31 last year.

Meanwhile, long-serving sports official Datuk Sieh Kok Chi is of the opinion that, as a last resort, Zii Jia can dispute his two-year exclusion from international tournaments at the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Normally, national athletes are also able to bring their problems to the athletes’ mediation committee under the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) but Kok Chi said it would be a bit tricky as the BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria is also the OCM president and there could be a conflict of interests.

“If athletes like Zii Jia find it difficult to solve issues at home, they can bring their disputes to CAS. It has happened before. The CAS is an independent body that mediates for sports clubs, associations, federation, and athletes and settles their issues. This process is costly though,” said Kok Chi.

“There is also the labour court. Cases can be disputed here too if ones’ livelihood is affected as one can never stop another from earning a decent living.”

Under BAM’s contract with players, there is a punitive action when players leave the set-up without fulfilling certain criteria.

In 1996, BA of Malaysia made Roslin Hashim and Ismail Saman pay compensation for leaving the national team to join Nusa Mahsuri. In 2011, they prevented Tan Chun Seang from playing in any tournaments but only in Asia for two years after he turned independent.

Kok Chi finds that taking away the players’ opportunity to play for 24 months is harsh as it would jeopardise their chance to qualify for the Olympic Games.

“Sports has become an industry now and playing badminton is a source of income for these players. So, to stop them from playing for a long time does not seem right, unless there were disciplinary or doping issues,” said Kok Chi.

“Of course, I wish for a win-win situation for both but in this case, it looks like BAM has nothing to lose but the players lose their livelihood to have a good and decent life.

“Yes, I’m aware there is a contract but it can always be re-looked if one party wants to. After all, BAM is a family, it should not end like this. These players are young and have devoted their life to the sport, aren’t there any other ways to find a win-win solution?”

Kok Chi feels more sympathetic to Jin Wei.

“She is a two-time world junior champion, Youth Olympics winner, and SEA Games champion. She did not get to play for two years under BAM because of her stomach ailment. Was she compensated when she left last year for all her contributions?

“She has left and decided to stand on her two feet. And now, she wants to play again on her own pace and suddenly, she is penalised too. Why? It seems unfair.

Earlier reports:

Jan 21, Netizens vent anger over Zii Jia’s 2-year ban

Jan 19, Zii Jia quits BAM, turns pro