Wednesday March 17, 2010 RM2mil in perks for badminton stars KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has announced a RM2mil allocation for the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to pay bonuses in arrears for its players and coaches. This came after national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s victory in the All-England tournament on Sunday. “This is a long-awaited victory at one of the highest levels of badminton. This will be a stepping stone to winning the Thomas Cup,” Najib said after he and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor received Lee and coach Datuk Misbun Sidek at their official residence yesterday. Najib said he had high hopes of Malaysia winning the Thomas Cup in May, but did not want to put pressure on the players. “I just want them to concentrate on preparing for it,” he said. Najib also said there were plans to set up a badminton academy to develop younger players and strengthen the country’s position in world badminton. “If there is no systematic development in the sport, we may run out of players of calibre in the future,” he said, adding that the Youth and Sports, and Education ministries were currently identifying locations for the academy. Najib also said the Youth and Sports Ministry would help BAM with its administrative processes. “For example, they can arrange for our players to arrive at overseas venues earlier, so they have more time to prepare.” Special memento: Chong Wei presenting Najib with the badminton racket he used to win Sunday’s All-England finals as Rosmah and Misbun look on yesterday.