Recently, Malaysians learnt of a former Paralympian's life in neglect after a photo of him working at a petrol station in Selangor went viral
The photo of former national sprinter Raduan Emeari, who competed at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, prompted concern among fellow Malaysians.
Back in 2019, when the photo was posted on Facebook, the uploader had questioned the Paralympic Council of Malaysia about the lack of incentives and jobs for national athletes after retirement.
Curious to see how the former national athelete is doing, a Twitter user decided to pay him a visit
Twitter user Ezhar Ehsan met Raduan at the BHP petrol station in Kuala Selangor on Monday, 6 September, and took a photo with him to update Twitter.
"As promised, I went to find this amazing person. Once revered, but now working as a petrol pump assistant," he tweeted, adding that he will accept donations from those willing to help.
The netizen, however, was taken aback when the ex-athlete asked him not to post the photo on social media, worried that the National Sports Council (NSC) will be accused of not taking care of his welfare.
With netizens expressing concern and disappointment, the NSC has released a statement
On Tuesday, 7 September, NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi responded that Raduan has actually rejected a job offer by the council to join the national team, citing family commitments.
"In 2016, Raduan was in the Podium Programme under the supervision of the National Sports Institute and was given a monthly allowance of RM4,500 until he was dropped due to performance factors at the end of 2017," said Ahmad Shapawi.
After being dropped, he said Raduan then no longer wanted to participate in any championships because he wanted to focus on his wife and child.
However, he added that the former athlete has been helping the NSC scout for new sporting talents in Selangor for RM350 monthly since 2020.
The NSC acknowledged that the 39-year-old had represented Malaysia in several editions of the ASEAN Para Games from 2005 to 2017, and notably the Beijing 2008 Paralympics
Bernama reported that Raduan won five ASEAN Para gold medals in that span of time.
Ahmad Shapawi added that the sprinter initially became involved with the NSC in 2007, starting on a part-time basis with a monthly allowance of RM500, before he was absorbed as a full-time athlete in 2009.
"[He was given] a monthly allowance between RM1,500 and RM2,000, depending on his performance in sporting events until 2015."
The NSC director-general then said the council and the National Athletes' Welfare Foundation (YAKEB) are always open to help former athletes within their capacity.
"YAKEB has also met with Raduan yesterday to offer him a spot in a basic business course and we will help if Raduan is interested in starting a business," he said.
Ahmad Shapawi assured that they will continue to build avenues and offer opportunities to help former national athletes build their livelihoods after retirement from sports.