KUCHING: Rewarding national diver Pandelela Rinong will do more good than harm and is worth considering.
Tasik Biru representative Datuk Henry Harry Jinep said past records had proven this.
He pointed out that Pandelela, who secured Malaysia’s first and only gold at the just concluded FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo, had been handsomely rewarded by both the state and federal governments, private and corporate sectors and individuals for her past achievements.
The Sarawak government had also named the state’s aquatic centre in Petra Jaya here after her.
“Despite all the accolades, rewards and incentives, both in cash and in kind, Pandelela has lived up to the standard. She did not become arrogant and boastful.
“She continues to focus on her aspiration to be a world champion and she has achieved just that at age of 28.”
Jinep said based on her performance and achievement, he believed Pandelela would continue to stay focused and even become more determined to achieve greater success as evident in her winning the gold medal at the FINA Diving World Cup.
She emerged champion in the women’s individual 10-metre platform final when she secured 355.70 points after completing seven dives and overtaking host divers, Matsuri Arai and Caeli McKay of Canada, with 342.00 points and 338.55 points.
Jinep said Pandelela, who hailed from Kampung Jugan in Bau, had endured much pain, hardship and perhaps, up to a certain extent, some forms of mental stress for years to be where she is today.
“Her achievements brought fame and honour to Malaysia and inspired the country’s young sportsmen and sportswomen to excel at the international sports arena,” he said.
Jinep acknowledged that rewards for athletes varied from one athlete to another.
“Personally, I feel that Pandelela’s case should be looked at both objectively and subjectively and that rewarding her more is worth considering.
“At the age of 28 and not many years left for her to deliver in the diving arena, I think now is the best time to accord her with a just reward and incentives.
“I sincerely hope she will continue to excel and not be distracted by so many comments in the social media about her.
“I hope Pandelela will continue to stay focused and I pray for the best for her and her national team mates at the Tokyo Olympics Games scheduled for July 23 to August 8.”
On the overwhelming demands by netizens on social media that the diver be awarded the honorary title, Jinep said, “We cannot demand for it. It’s not for us to demand. It is awarded by the top leaders to a deserving individual.
“We, as leaders at the grassroots level, can only suggest, nominate and recommend but it is up to the top leaders to decide.”
Jinep noted many people had expressed their views through the social media on whether Pandelela should be awarded the honorary title.
“But they must bear in mind there are procedures and requirements that need to be followed. And for that, we have to go back to leaders.
“If Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin thinks she deserves the Datukship, then he will recommend it to the Yang DiPertuan Agong.
“If Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg thinks that she deserves it and considers that she is mature enough at the of 28 to carry the title, then why not consider her. There is nothing wrong with it.”
Asked for his personal opinion, Jinep said, “Personally, I think yes. I look at it from a different perspective. Age wise, I think at 28, she is mature enough. A woman can be a Datin at 21 and a Datuk at 28. There’s nothing wrong for Pandelela, who is already 28, to be a Datuk.
“If not because she is actively in sports, Pandelela could have been married and be a mother already. So yes, she is mature enough to be given a Datukship.”