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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SEA Games chief hits back at critics

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The Games cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony of the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur. Adek Berry/AFP

SEA Games chief hits back at critics

As Malaysia celebrated an all-time high gold medal haul at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, far exceeding its ambitious target of 111, the head of the South East Asian Games Federation (SEAGF) Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar flatly rejected allegations by several participating nations that the host country had stacked the programme to serve its own strengths.

The SEAGF chief reportedly claimed during a foreign media session that their training programme for athletes, known as “Kita Juara”, home advantage and the most rigorous preparation any Malaysian team has ever had led to its best performance in the 2017 Games, according to Singapore’s Channel News Asia.

Tuanku Ja’afar countered complaints that Malaysia had fixed the games, saying sarcastically: “Yes we fixed our athletes to perform better by good exposure, training and coaching. There was an investment made on these athletes and it has paid off.”

Reacting to the controversy surrounding the gold medal round in a pencak silat event where the Indonesian manager accused Malaysia of cheating, the SEAGF head suggested that Indonesia should lodge a formal complaint with the Silat Federation, contending that Malaysia had nothing to do with the judging of the event.

While expressing regret over certain incidents, Tuanku Ja’afar admitted that overall the Games were a success but some aspects could have been handled better.

At the start of the Games, the Indonesian flag was printed upside-down in a Games brochure, resulting in protests across Indonesia in which the Malaysian flag was burned.

At the Malaysia-Myanmar football match, two Myanmar fans were beaten up outside the stadium. In an earlier game against rivals Singapore, Malaysia fans were heard chanting “Singapore dogs”.

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