Proposed Regulations For Private Dragon Boat Clubs On Safety Measures – Danny Law Heng Kiang

Proposed Regulations For Private Dragon Boat Clubs On Safety Measures

I support the suggestion by the Penang State Government that the Federal Government establish a formal inquiry into the dragon boat mishap at Gat Lebuh Macallum that caused the loss of 6 lives. Following the initial blame on Chung Ling School by the Penang Education Department, it is only fair that a full independent and public inquiry be held before judgement is passed. The Penang State government is willing to fully support and give any assistance to an inquiry to provide full accountability to this tragic accident.

Penang State Government wishes to express heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. It was most unfortunate and disheartening that the recent dragon boat training of Chung Ling High School with the supervision of the coach and assistant coach of the Penang Forward Sports Club cost the lives of a teacher and five students from Chung Ling High School.

Private clubs such as the Penang Forward Sports Club has always been self-regulating without any control by the state government.

In view of what has happened, the Penang State Government will hold a meeting proposing to regulate the private clubs in terms of safety and discuss issues such as:

a) Requiring rowers to wear a Personal Floatation Aid (Buoyancy Aid or life jacket) while training in open waters such as in seas and dams.

b) All rowers must be able to swim at least 50 meters and tread water for at least 3 minutes

c) In all State organised races, under the Rules and Regulations of Competitions, all crews must comply with the International Dragon Boat Federation water safety standards.

d) Offering the use of Teluk Bahang Dam for training free of charge during day time 7 days a week, and

e) Any other relevant safety issues

Clarification on some confusing facts:

Q: The Chung Ling High School Dragon Boat Team conducted their training at Gat Lebuh Macallum because they want to get used to the venue as the State Government had chosen the site as a Dragon boat competition venue.

A: Actually Penang Forward Sports Club has been conducting training at the site for the past three years without any mishaps. The Chung Ling High School Team has been training under the supervision of this club for the past two to three years on a voluntary basis.

The Pesta Open Dragon Boat Race which was held on 12th and 13th of December 2009 at Bandar Sri Pinang waterfront off Jelutong Expressway is a totally different location away from the Macallum Street Ghaut waterfront where the tragedy occurred.

During the Pesta Open Dragon Boat Race last year, two boats collided because there were no demarcation lanes. After that incident, the State Government has decided that future races will not be held in the open seas

Q: Why was Penang Forward Sports Club allowed to conduct training at the Macallum Street Ghaut waterfront?

A: The training by Penang Forward Sports Club was not sanctioned by the State Government and held on private initiative.

For the past twenty years, dragon boat crews have been training in the open seas without any untoward incidents.

Previously, private clubs did not have a specific location for training. Since early last year, the State Government has taken the initiative to grant special permission for crews to train at the Telok Bahang Dam from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm every Saturday and Sunday.

Now the Teluk Bahang Dam will be available for all local dragon boat crews to conduct their training the whole day at any time of the week without any charges / fee. The State Government and PBA will build additional facilities such as toilets, bathrooms, pontoon, storage room and etc for the dragon boat crews.

9 January 2010 Meeting

On 9th of January 2010, the Penang International Dragon Boat Festival Committee informed dragon boat club team managers that the Teluk Bahang Dam will be the recommended location for local teams to train.

Aside from the Chung Ling High School Dragon Boat Team, dragon boat teams from schools such as the SMJK Heng Ee, SMJK Chung Hwa Confucian, SK Tanjung Bungah and St Xavier’s Institution have also been training in the open sea.

For at least more than twenty years, Chung Ling High School has been actively involved in dragon boat racing and is one of the top school crews in Penang. They have won numerous races in the School Category and recently, during the Penang Open Dragon Boat Race held on 12th and 13th December 2009, they were the champions in the 200 meter Junior Race Category.  They have won numerous races in the schools,national and international categories.

The State Government will be conducting training on water safety for all dragon boat crews in the near future.

We welcome all experts in the field to join our Water Sports Safety Advisory Panel to look into, improve and implement safety requirements and standards for dragon boat racing and training. We will be looking into the matter and will fix a day for dialogue with all dragon boat crews and all parties.

Danny Law
Press Statement On The Penang Dragon Boat Training Tragedy
By The Penang International Dragon Boat Festival Committee Chairman
Yang Berhormat Mr Danny Law Heng Kiang
21 January 2010, 12.00 PM, Level 53, KOMTAR

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