The government agreed to raise the rates of the Sports Incentive Scheme rewards to encourage athletes to excel and make Malaysia a sports powerhouse.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government also agreed to give RM10 million to the Football Development Plan fund set up this year to develop the sport from the grassroot level.
"These two incentives are based on the Malaysian contingent's success at the 25th SEA Games in Laos last December. The Cabinet is satisfied and proud of the performance where the 40 gold, 40 silver and 59 bronze medals won had exceeded the target."
Najib said this in his speech at the presentation of cheques for the incentives to the 62 people who won gold medals at the SEA Games held in Vientiane from Dec 9 to 19 last year.
Under the incentive scheme, a gold medallist in the biennial Games currently receives RM5,000 and an additional RM1,000 is given for a Games record.
The incentive reward is RM80,000 for a gold medal, RM40,000 for silver and RM20,000 for bronze in the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
For the Olympic Games, it is RM1 million for gold, RM300,000 for silver and RM100,000 for bronze.
Najib said the incentive scheme was introduced when he was the Youth and Sports Minister from 1986 to 1990, to motivate Malaysian sportsmen and sportswomen to win gold at the SEA, Asian, Commonwealth and Olympics Games.
"As proposed by the current Youth and Sports Minister (Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek), the Cabinet agreed to review the incentive scheme. The details will be announced soon," he said.
He, however, reminded the athletes to continue to strive for success at a higher level and not just at the national and regional levels.
On the Football Development Plan, Najib said the RM10 million given to the fund was based on the success of the national squad coached by K. Rajagobal in ending Malaysia's 20-year wait for a gold medal at the SEA Games recently.
"We last won gold at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 1989. I was the Youth and Sports Minister at the time and I felt how sweet the success. And football is the most popular sport in this country."
He said the government agreed with the minister's proposal to implement the Sports Development Plan from the grassroot level with the cooperation of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Najib said the plan would be implemented systematically and would not just focus on the players, but also the coaches and technical officers.
In his speech, he also mentioned the sports which contributed the most gold medals for Malaysia at the recent SEA Games such as diving (six), karate (five) and silat (four), as well as boxing (two) which was not targeted earlier.
"The climax was of course the football final which Malaysia won, which all Malaysians had been yearning for from the sport for a long time," he said.