Aug 30, 2008

Vivian Must Be Annoyed

ST Aug 30, 2008
I'm sorry, Singapore
By Lin Xinyi & Terrence Voon

'I SINCERELY apologise.'

Ms Lee Bee Wah, the president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), had those words for the country last night.

Her comments last weekend, that she would replace the Singapore table tennis team manager, unleashed a storm of criticism and calls for her resignation.

In a quavering voice, she said sorry for souring the country's brightest sporting moment in almost half a century.

Facing a throng of close to 30 journalists at a press conference last night, she said: 'It is regretful that this situation happened and turned out the way it did.

'I had made comments which had been misunderstood and had upset some Singaporeans. I sincerely apologise for causing any grievances and any stress.'

She also said: 'Our action has dampened the celebration mood of our fellow Singaporeans.'
With that, she brought to a close one chapter of an episode that sparked unhappiness from all quarters.

Since last weekend Ms Lee, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, has been criticised by many for spoiling the party mood after the country's first Olympic medal in 48 years.

Just five days after the women's table tennis team took silver at the Beijing Games, she revealed that team manager Antony Lee's services were no longer needed, and that national head coach Liu Guodong's fate would be decided by a coaching committee.

She had been angry after Singapore No. 1 Gao Ning found himself with no coach for his third-round men's singles match and crashed out to a much lower-ranked Croatian.

Ms Lee took over as table tennis chief barely two months ago, on July 4. Though many called for her to step down, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan made it clear last night that she will stay, but she needs some time to get results.

Last night's press conference, held at the STTA's headquarters in Toa Payoh, also made clear that head coach Liu is in talks with Ms Lee to negotiate a new contract.

But team manager Lee will leave the STTA. His secondment from the Singapore Sports Council to the association will be extended by three months beyond the end of this month. He will then join the Singapore National Olympic Council.
Silly Bee Wah. Such an unnecessary fracas. Simultaneously, her severe lack of political finesse is exposed and revealed to her political bosses.

If Bee Wah had really wanted to get rid of Lee, she should have simply waited a few more weeks or months. Then the public excitement over the Olympic silver medal would have died down, and she could have garnered a few plausible reasons, and sacked Lee then. Without all this sound and fury.

No, instead Bee Wah had to do it straight after the Olympics, and in such an ugly fashion - making it public, without even personally telling Lee first. Leading to an entirely predictable backlash from the public. Now the Minister himself has to step in personally, and repeatedly, to manage the show and stop it from spinning out of control.

Doesn't Bee Wah UNDERSTAND what Vivian needs? The success of our imported foreign sporting talent is not merely for the sake of the sporting scene in Singapore. No, their success is important for convincing the masses that in general, foreign talent is good, valuable and beneficial for Singapore, in every sector.

In other words, the Olympic silver medal is an important showcase for the PAP government's broader foreign talent policy. The greater the public euphoria over the silver medal, the better!

But now that Bee Wah has gone and mucked it all up. No, her political bosses won't be pleased at all.

Regarding the table tennis part, the damage is done. Lee is going, and who can blame him? People have pride, especially people who are good at what they do. Lee's main satisfaction in this matter would be that before leaving, he did manage to get Bee Wah so thoroughly and publicly embarassed.

And besides, for him, there will always be other options. Any other countries out there, which would like a table tennis coach for the 2012 London Olympics?


Anonymous said...

actually getting a good chance of winning a table tennis team medal is not too difficult.. just get a good chinese coach, dangle cash rewards to attract the China national team droputs and accelerated citizenship.

this was our formula to earning our first olympic medal in 48 years anyway.

the losers are the home-grown players who are displaced by the imports, and never got a chance to develop their talent.

Anonymous said...

Its a little irritating, ms.Lee always put a smirk on her face that doesnt look very apologetic.

Her actions signals to the foreign talent that once they have completed their vital mission/job, they will be fired/trashed without proper notice.

pardon me, mr wang, i think her "severe lack of political finesse, to her political bosses" is an understatement. she needs to brush up on her EQ (which is in the negative quadrant).

IF, if we lose the 2012 table tennis Olympics, can we put a certain extent of blame on her for blatant actions?

Anonymous said...

Woah the Power stare at Lee Bee Wah from behind is priceless.
Oh look,Lee Bee Wah is one of those go back door GRC vote en mass buy 1 or 2 and get 3 free MP(this group usually contain malaysian FT). No wonder got no standard, So ultimately GRC is the vehicles for them to GET COMPLACENT??? Minister into politic.
And she make Our PM look bad because she is part of Ang mo kio GRC.
No Wonder, Vivian is annoyed.

Anonymous said...

actually... i was hopeful that she may have been tasked to rein in the run away china syndrome in our table tennis team. what the heck... just call it china's team B.

a medal bought is worthless, an insult to sportsmanship.

Anonymous said...

Lee Bee Wah's quite a good example of how pawns can go wrong. The only way the PAP can recruit people to be their MPs is by leaving out all who have a critical mind. Well, usually that also means you get someone who is politically insensitive. After all, the overall elitist, self-serving and haughty attitude of the PAP isn't quite a conducive climate to produce politically sensitive MPs.

And it's not like it matters. Big boss will just cover for you.

Anonymous said...

Just a note, Mr. Lee is the team's manager, not the coach.

Anonymous said...

This newbie PAP MP Lee Bee Wah is one example of those low EQ types. Maybe there are many more among the new MPs, just that they do not yet have a chance or situation to reveal it.
Low EQ types can also be very successful in their fields and careers especially in technical areas and earning very high pay, which is a prior, unspoken requisite to be a PAP candidate. Given that many (both high and low EQs) are unwilling to be one, the few who say yes will very likely be accepted, even though the recruiters knew (through their interactions and interview with them)that they have low EQ. Otherwise there may not be any new PAP candidates.
And fortunately, with GRCs and law suits, there are even fewer opposition candidates. So PAP rules, despite whatever deficiencies and excesses they have.

Jimmy Mun said...

I dont know why you guys are all queueing up to throw stones at Lee Bee Wah. As far as I am concerned, winning the Olympic medal the way STTA did was a national disgrace. Beyond personal objections, I have to endure mocking at work by my colleagues from China, of how useless Singapore is without the help of the Great China.

But piling on the disgrace, is how poorly STTA managed the media. Do we really need to know that Li Jiawei is in a hurry to quit Singapore as soon as she collects the money? Why let her be on Chinese TV declaring her true identity and nationality? Do we really need to know that Feng Tianwei is going to spend her prize money by investing in Chinese real estate? Do we really need to hear about Gao Ning whining away? All this can should be kept hush hush to maintain the usual beautiful illusion to keep a nation sedated.

Those are the real party poopers.

One thing to note is that she had intentions to reform STTA goals to be more Singaporean-centric. Which is probably the real reason why a PR offensive was made against her.

PAP will do well to remember that the foreign talents they bring in by the oodles, are not the same stock as the sheep they are accustomed to push around and slaughter. Remember the Sepoy mutiny?

Anonymous said...

Haha. Actually before this happened, I saw her interview on tv after the match where S'pore was guaranteed a silver.

She looked extremely excited. I was thinking, "Wow, who is this woman? She looked damn 'on'."

Then, after reading about Ms Lee's regrettable comments (and recognising her from the pics), I conclude that she is a highly emotional person.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Will our foreign born parliamentarians, maybe even local born, retire in foreign lands taking all their asset along?


Anonymous said...

Lee Bee Wah is also an FT actually (she was born in Malaysia).

Anonymous said...

Another 'MOVE ON', 'let the matter rest'.....How many more 'move on' can we take? Can normal Singaporean done a mistake than say sorry and move on? No way jose!

Anonymous said...

Is this a smoke screen to throw us off course, so other under achivers can get away?

Badminton - Susilo, he was recuited since many years ago, very well fed. BUT, he had NEVER!!! got close and not to mention winning any medal for us. Excuses excuses from him always.

Why is SSC still keeping / feeding him?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, speaking about foreign talents, I am sure you were paying attention to the debate in parliament about the liberalisation of the legal industry here. Alvin Yeo, Hri Kumar and other "lawyer MPs" were arguing passionately about how opening up the legal industry here would cause local lawyers to leave local firms, marginalise local law firms etc.

I cant help but notice how the same lawyer MPs (to my knowledge) chose to keep quiet when the debate on how bringing in foreign workers were disadvantaging local workers by taking away jobs and depressing wages. But when their interests were affected, the same lawyer MPs (remember they are partners in local law firms)suddenly felt that the influx of foreign talent is bad.

Anonymous said...

"No, their success is important for convincing the masses that in general, foreign talent is good, valuable and beneficial for Singapore, in every sector."

I agree with you, Mr Wang, but perhaps more importantly, sports is part of nation-building in Singapore. A medal win in sporting events, especially in the Olympics, elevates "Team Singapore" and creates a certain sense of pride which all Singaporeans can feel. Through this, Singaporeans' national identity is strengthened as they feel they have stakes in the Olympics glory.

However, because the silver medal was won by foreign-born, naturalised Singaporeans, the pride symbol is significantly weakened. Some Singaporeans do not feel they have a part in the Olympics glory, as foreign talent obviously acquired their talent overseas. Hence nation-building through sports has failed to some extent, but the hosting of YOG 2010 will see if it succeeds in the near future.

Anonymous said...

The ruling party gets a 'U' for nation-building. They only manage the country. Economy is THE focus. All else is secondary and only a means to economic ends. See how PAP MPs and ministers get additional posts to beef up their portfolios? Stick their finger in everything from GIC and Temasek Holdings to GLCs to SPH to CASE to Sports...

Pledge: "So as achieve happiness AND prosperity for our NATION". Prosperity? Yes for some. Happiness? :(

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang

While ill-timed, I felt Lee Bee Wah was on the right track for lashing out at Antony Lee and Liu Guodong for the way they treated Gao Ning at the Olympics.

Yes, ultimately the women's team had the best chance to win a medal at the Olympics, but does this mean riding roughsod over every other athletes' own Olympic ambitions. Gao had targetted a top-eight finish for himself so that he has something to look back upon with personal pride but even that was denied.

It's time for us to ask: what srt of values do we want in our pursuit of sporting excellence?

Can I share with your readers my thoughts here?

Meanwhile, here's something for die-hard supporters of local sports talent to rejoice over:

Anonymous said...

read anthony yeo's piece on TOC please.

read London 2012's perspective

n I u'std that in china even village can say - gold medals dun build schools ... something like that.

what we have here is clownish machinations of the most insincere misguided kinds .... LBW is the fall guy .. just a reflection of the mindset n the selection process behind it all.

if u want to win ppl's respect dun throw yr face away.

in the first place, if u want ppl's respect but u have no self respect, then s'thing wrong to begin with.

better to jive yr own thing - take yr own ownership that is.

worrying abt ppl's opinions is endless and tiresome (eccl 12:12)

Anonymous said...

It's besides the point but Lee Bee Wah apparently cant wait for a couple of months to sack Antony Lee. Antony's going back to SSC in a few days. :p

And yea, he's the team manager, not the coach

Anonymous said...

If her actions are taken to be consistent with PAP's arrogant way of governing Singapore, doesn't it mean that Wong Kan Seng should have been sacked long ago ?

Maybe she can explain to us why Wong Kan Seng not sacked in the first place for the Mas Selamat blunder ?

Are these not examples of double standards of governance being practised by PAP leaders ?

Anonymous said...

Lee Bee Wah is tactless lacking in political acumen and grace but then what else is new? That is and has always been the government's approach to people. If foreign talent doesn't like it then welcome to the real world of being Singaporeans. On the other hand, this is what happens when you depend on foreign talent. Let us all bea ware of the bigger picture: this fracas arose with the table tennis team. What happens one day when a ft is manning a SAM defence system? You can't sack that guy right when he decides not to press the button? On another note: what would happen if Ferguson decises not to be present (for whatever reason) when Man U has a life and death qualifying match against Pool? But then we all know the answer to that: you will not Ferguson doing that right?

Anonymous said...

"Regarding the table tennis part, the damage is done. Lee is going, and who can blame him? People have pride, especially people who are good at what they do. Lee's main satisfaction in this matter would be that before leaving, he did manage to get Bee Wah so thoroughly and publicly embarassed."

Mr Wang, you got mixed up. Lee is the team manager, he is Singaporean. The head coach is Liu Guodong, a China national. Liu claims his services are sought elsewhere and is weighing his options. Lee is deemed expendable and thus au revoir.

The govt is trying very hard to paint a picture of national euphoria over the medal win. The level of media propaganda is unprecedented and rivals those found during General Election. The damage is already done and it is silly to hear them talk of returning to celebrations.

Anonymous said...

Is it just a coincidence to have 2 MPs ,infamous for bad publicity to be in PM Lee's GRC ? Remember Wee Siew Kim, father of Wee Shu Min ? He did not get his public apology right even on the 3rd attempt and now there is Lee Bee Wah. PM Lee has to seriously probe into the selection process. Vivian should be more concerned than annoyed if he is loyal to PM Lee and Vivian should advise PM Lee to get rid of his liabilities using a straight forward strategy. Assign Wong Kan Seng, Wee Siew Kim and Lee Bee Wah to the Aljunied GRC for the next election or put them up to contest the by-election for Jurong GRC. Those MPs napping in parliament could also be included to make up the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Today's Sunday Times proudly proclaims: "Eager fans queue up for paddlers'autographs"

Somewhere down the report later, we learnt that about 300 people turned up.

I bet you that at least two thirds of these 300 people would be "foreign talents". True blue Singaporeans have better things to do than to get involved in this shameless charade. The fact is, we bought the medal, we didn't win it. Let's call a spade a spade.

A Singapore Olympic Silver medal team? How stupid can you get?

Anonymous said...

LBW took over as table tennis chief barely two months ago, yet made such a commotion already. i guess her tactless actions are driven by eagerness to prove that she is doing her work coupled with poor EQ.

Quote jimmy mom; "have to endure mocking at work by my colleagues from China, of how useless Singapore is without the help of the Great China". i think 'useless' is too strong a word to use. many countries are dependent on foreign expertise. and for your colleagues, it seems they are rather shallow - what has a mistake from LBW got to do with you personally such that they mock you? when the China government does something bad, do we call our China friends to rant at them?

Quote Jimmy mom
"Do we really need to know that Li Jiawei is in a hurry to quit Singapore as soon as she collects the money?"
draw this parallel to Your blog entry on 20.07.07 "About 40% of all foreign undergrad scholarship holders leave Singapore without working for a single day"

Quote SimplyInconceivable,
"And it's not like it matters. Big boss will just cover for you."
totally agreed. we've heard too many of such cases, havent we.

Just looking at the picture, one might mistaken that Vivian was the one sincerely apologising.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how they could even select her to attend their tea party. She clearly lacks the grace and intelligence to become an MP. She appeared more like an overage Ah Lien to me. And how did the PAP really thinks she is a talent. My, their standards have really gone down over the years, despite what they profess to represent.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Well, you must remember that LKY has been complaining for years that it's so difficult, so very difficult, to get talented Singaporeans to join politics.

If you read between the lines, you'll see that this means that many of the current PAP MPs were simply not the PAP's first-choice candidates. The genuinely first-choice candidates had refused to join (hence LKY's laments). Many of those whom we're seeing in Parliament today must be the 2nd or 3rd-choice candidates.

Anonymous said...

lol ... pap was already scrapping the bottom of the barrel years ago .... the good ones can take care of themselves. they dun need to be induced or promised their 'estimated' potential in political office.

it's natural consequence of domineering condescending mindset to use the country as an instrument of power in service of one party dominance.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, world class journalism will be able to spin and stomp its way out of this temporal aberration and return everyone to peaceful harmonious co-existence.

It's "Oh, shit happens. Let's move on." an improvement to "Let's move on." Perhaps media coverage of Ping Pong Bee is overdone. It's over. Move on.

Mistakes were made but these should not overshadow important facts
- 48 year drought over
- silver medal
- finally some ROI
- naturalized citizens are filled with gratitude and fulfilling their bit as global citizens e.g. heading back to their homeland.

The FT thingy is fait accompli, at least till 2011.

Anonymous said...

It was ill-timed, definitely

But I notice the tendency to conflate all our grievances into one single rant.

Some even commented that her face looked 'unapologetic". That's really taking it a little too far. Is she suppose to sob?

I feel that in the sporting arena, foreign talent doesnt deprive locals of success. If we look at it in a different angle, FTs raise the ante and keeps the local sporting talents on their toes.

Would one be happy if the entire olympic team comprises of ONLY born-and-bred Singaporeans yet they do not win a single medal? This is a subjective question, but to me, a silver medal is a silver medal. Of course, the better it is if b-and-b Singaporeans could be the one getting silver medal. But they must first prove their mettle.

If we do not hire jiawei or tian wei in the first place, they will still be playing for other countries ANYWAY. Be it their homeland or other countries that are more than willing to hire them such as Japan or Croatia.

So you see, the international sporting arena is very fluid. Talents face no barriers now. Even if singaporeans need only compete with each other for a place in the olympic singapore team instead of against FTs like jiawei, they will still face them in the world stage. Its the same.

I dont quite get the logic on how having FTs could depress the achievements of other locals. The problem, i feel, is that the sporting base in Singapore is not large enough. So the recent measures proposed by Ms Lee Bee Wah looks sound, but the results remains to be seen. Hopefully in years to come, we can actually have local talents who can win those FTs and gain a legitimate place in the Singapore Olympic team, and hence decoupling our reliance on FTs.

The only problem, thus far, of having a FT win a medal for you is that the medal does not itself carry as much prestige as had it been won by a local true blue Singaporean. But Singapore really doesnt have the critical mass on itself to achieve on the World stage, for now.

Anonymous said...

Someone from PA told me Ms Lee very free one... Every time walk here walk there. In short span of time fired 3 program manager (or Project manager)... She's apparently one of those good for nothing.

By the way, who voted for her?

It's time the MPs account for themselves and not hide behind GRC.

With GRC, we tend to get ELITES like Wee Siew Kim (Wee Shu Min's father), Lee Bee Hwa, Mah Bow Tan, etc. Nobody knows who voted for them, but suddenly become MPs and Ministers...

Anonymous said...

Maybe there are many more among the new MPs, just that they do not yet have a chance or situation to reveal it.

ARE YOU KIDDING? We had a MOLE incident not that long ago!

Get out of elite uncaring face baby!

Anonymous said...

China vs China

Anonymous said...

WTF.....Who is to know really malfunction or not. If such an article can be printed in our NEWsPAPERS, then obviously some MPs probably knew the voting figures were WRONG.


Just imagine if electronic voting were used in our General Erections? SAY NO TO ELECTRONIC VOTING. REMEMBER FLORIDA?

From: sgnews 8:07 pm
To: ALL (1 of 2)


No failure in electronic voting system

I REFER to last Thursday's article, 'A House enthralled'. The article stated that there was a 'failure of equipment' and 'equipment malfunctioning' in Parliament, referring to the electronic voting system in the Chamber.
We wish to clarify that equipment tests are carried out on the electronic voting system as part of our operating procedures every morning on a sitting day. Evidence of the test results on the said sitting day and the immediately preceding sitting days indicated that the electronic voting system was functioning properly.

Apart from equipment, there are other probable explanations for a Member's vote not registering in the system. For example, the buttons may not have been properly depressed, or depressed ahead of the system being activated by the Chair, or the correct sequence of voting was not carried out.

We conduct rigorous tests on our electronic voting system on all sitting days. While we do not completely exclude the possibility of a bug in the system, we have comprehensive system procedures in the place and there is no evidence of system malfunction. However, as part of our continuous improvement efforts, we will review our procedures and make enhancements where necessary.

Ng Sheau Jiuan (Ms)
Clerk of Parliament

Anonymous said...

For those who think that the apology is better late than never. My take on this - it is too little too late!

Sack Lee Bee Wah!

Anonymous said...

His face so tu-lan in the pix. Maybe now funds cut so cannot have MCYS/STTA lunches in restaurant and got to makan at hawker center.

Anonymous said...

Even the apology seems poorly conceived. "..comments which had been misunderstood"? It does not sound like a total admission of her own wrong. It sounds like it was partly our fault in misunderstanding her in the first place. A misunderstanding is to understand wrongly. So it implies the fault lies in those who heard her message and taking it the wrong way.

The minister also did himself no favor earlier in the controversy by saying he had not read the reports. It was already big news everywhere and he had not read it.

Anonymous said...

Ng Ser Miang presented to her an oversized pair of shoes. Is he saying "your feets are too small for the shoes"?

Anonymous said...

don said"""But Singapore really doesnt have the critical mass on itself to achieve on the World stage, for now."""

Either you had not tuned in to the recent or past Olympic games or trying to pull a fast one here.

Are you that extremely out of touch? Think. Which country won the 100m, 200m, 4X100m? Which country nearly won silver medal in the 200m but was disqualified when the US protested.

These countries have about half of S'pore's population. There are many such examples if you care to research (Sorry I refuse to spoon feed for people like you) Please lah, when you want to support some people(or political party) get your damn facts right first and foremost.

And yes. I would be proud if B and B S'poreans competed hard in the games but won no medals than buying from the wholesale international market to do the job. You still have this lingering impression that money was the the main factor here. Over and above national pride.

It's true there are countries with "imported" talents in the Games. But please take a close look and you will find the these countries have about 90% B and B athletes and players in their contingent.

Anonymous said...

I am not proud of the medals.

I do not regard Li Jiawei or Fung tienwei as my own kind because they are bought for a reason. Very much like slaves in the olden days.

I very much prefer Ang Peng Siong or Joceyln Yeo.

This whole ping pong saga must be a screw up on LBW's part for being overzealous.

Knowing these PAP minions, they usually don't make major decisions. Perhaps, it was true that the manager had been decided by the gods above to be removed to make way for more foreign talents. Our jamban MP just got too overzealous in carrying out her orders and messed it up big time.

This is usually the behind the scenes story if you work long enough in the civil service.

Anonymous said...

I dare to bet 1 to 1000 drs, if put her on SMC instead of GRC she wld'nt be elected. She is an opportunist, she cld'nt "thung chiak" "make a living" in malaysia so came to Singapore to "siant" "bullshit". Only stupid "PAP" kana conn by her.

Anonymous said...


I will respect your views only if you would rephrase them in a more polite manner.

Need I remind you that its only one country that you have used as an example? Besides, its not even a good example in the first place. Jamaicans, according to research, have congenital talents in T & F due to a special gene in their body.

There are simply too many other factors in place. Their sporting base is much broader even though their population is smaller. Their sporting culture and lifestyle is also very different from Singapore. Indeed, if we talk about "critical mass", it refers to people who are actively engaged in sports.

With Singapore's lifestyle, not enough people are willing to give up their creature comforts and commit themselves. And for those who do, the question of how long can these commitments last?Jamaicans on the other hand have had a rich sporting heritage esp in athletics.

Anonymous said...

don say: "...foreign talent doesnt deprive locals of success. If we look at it in a different angle, FTs raise the ante and keeps the local sporting talents on their toes.." Yes but this is an easy way out. We could and should develop our talents albeit our small population. Look at Jamaica, look at NZ. They all have small population like ours but yet they are able to produce champions. SSC just have to refocus and our traditional value of success thro' academic path must change.

As for LBW, which is the subject of this post, she dfinitely has very low EQ and is an attention grabber, to boot. This low EQ is dangerous for the PAP. Those of us old enough will remember Seet Ai Mee and her 1991 loss at Bt Gombak.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"There are simply too many other factors in place."

That's right. There are very small countries (like Jamaica) which do much better than Singapore in the Olympics. There are very large countries (like India) which do worse than Singapore.

And as you say, there are many factors to consider.

So I think it is not at all obvious that hiring foreigners to win medals for us is the best way to go about it.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Actually, you can start by going back to very basic questions like:

"Does Singapore want to win Olympic medals? If so, why?"

This will remind you of the fundamentals. If the answer has something to do with "national pride", then you have to ask yourself why so many Singaporeans seem to be very "un-proud" of our silver medal, and even angry about it.

Personally you may think that they shouldn't feel that way. But the simple fact is that they do. This is an undeniable fact and it's no use quibbling about it.

So the winning of the silver medal clearly does not fulfill (or only partially fulfills) the reason why Singapore wanted to win the Olympic medal in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Actually to my mind it does not matter if the medal winner for Singapore is a citizen by birth or a new citizen PROVIDED that ALL who are citizens feel pride that they are worthy participants in the nation. Unfortunately citizens have been displaced, made to feel irrelevantm unwelcome and second class by those in power who bent over backwards to court prospective foreign talents. The issue is for me not whether Singaporeans win medals but why the government persist in believeing that they can only get foreign talents by belittling its own people. I know habits die hard and it is easier to stick by old ways of thinking rather then to be critically minded. However the government should rethink its abuse of its own citizens.

Anonymous said...

Sorry also must explain ....

sound familiar ?

Anonymous said...

Thank you to all who have given your precious time to respond to my comments in a amiable and respectful manner. I appreciate your opinions, regardless of whether these opinions agree or disgree with my position.

I totally agree with Mr Wang that fundamentally, Singaporeans would definitely prefer bornt-and-bred Singaporean athletes to win medals in Olympics instead of FT like Li Jiawei.

This is highlighted in my previous post when I mentioned that "The only problem, thus far, of having a FT win a medal for you is that the medal does not itself carry as much prestige as had it been won by a local true blue Singaporean."

However, until the day when our local sporting talent can match up to the standards of Li Jiawei or Feng tian wei etc, we can only rely on FTs to win the medals for us.

Hiring FTs might not be the best long term measure, but from what I see, it has no better alternative currently. As a stop-gap measure, it still is, in my opinion, the most viable option for Singapore right now.

As for comparison with other countries, I still think it is meaningless because there are too many variables at work. The lifestyle, values and heritage differ from country to country.

Anonymous @ September 1, 2008 5:09 PM mentioned that 'SSC just have to refocus and our traditional value of success thro' academic path must change.'

Theoretically, yes. But how are we going to reverse values and cultures that has been instituitionalized? The devil is in the details.

This also shows an area in which Singapore lack acutely while other countries have abundantly. Its the sporting culture and heritage, supported with a broad base of sporting population. Singapore lifestyle and values just doesnt go well with that.

Besides, if we dont rely on FTs to win medals for us, how long do we have to wait for an olympic silver? An olympic silver is a strong multiplier in terms of morale and inspiration for athletes and non athletes alike without doubt. And the recent measures and spotlight were undoubtedly kick-started by our achievements in the Olympics.

Hence, I still stand firm in my belief that right now, hiring FTs is still the most feasible option when juxtaposed against alternatives even though it may not be the most ideal [or popular] strategy.

Anonymous said...

what the PAP Govt wants to do is almost always what the people may not want to do ....

right or wrong, there are already disconnects or faultlines.

that's why in most affairs, there is no common ownership. Each side is largely on their own - so not much of a nationhood.

this story is just a symptom.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"However, until the day when our local sporting talent can match up to the standards of Li Jiawei or Feng tian wei etc, we can only rely on FTs to win the medals for us."

It is a chicken-&-egg question. Firstly, we only seek to bring in FTs who are better than the locals (no point bringing FTs who are lousier than the locals, right?). However, once the FTs are here, the locals will very often lose the chance to improve themselves.

For example, suppose there is a 13-year-old true-blue Singaporean who's very good at table tennis today. How might he improve, over the years, so that he can one day win an Olympic medal?

Well, for starters, we might send her to play in the SEA Games. Then we might send her to play in the Asian Games. Then we might send her to various other international competitions etc, over the years, so that she gains more experience and one day become good enough to be an Olympic medal contender.

But if today we already have FTs like Li or Feng, and if we keep replacing them with new FTs, why would we send the 13-year-old to play for Singapore in the SEA Games? The Asian Games? Or any high-level international competition, for that matter?

And if the 13-year-old never gets these opportunities, how will she ever gain enough experience to become an Olympic medal contender?


It is the old question of whether you want to develop and nurture your own citizens, or import foreigners to replace them.

Anonymous said...

Need we have to look so far as Jamaica?

Just look at what our ASEAN neighbours had won with their locals:
Vietnam - weightlifting silver medal in men’s 56 kg
Indonesia - weightlifting bronze medal in men’s 56 kg and bronze in men’s 62 kg
Thailand - weightlifting gold medal in women’s 53 kg and silver in women’s 49 kg Taekwondo
Malaysia - silver medal in men’s badminton single.

Even Togo, a small African nation with a population of 5 million and a GDP per capital of $1,700 (world’s 193rd) had won her first ever Olympic bronze medal in the men’s Shalom K-1 Canoe event.

And war-torn Afganistan, represented by only 4 competitors, managed to win her first ever Olympic medal by taking the bronze medal in the men’s -58kg taekwondo.

Is a silver medal, or a gold for that matter, won by foreign-born worth more than a bronze medal won by a local?

Anonymous said...

It's time we stop singingto the tune of the government's policy that mebbe stop at two won't do but fts can do it better. We should all celebrate Singaporeans who have achieved despite all the odds against them. Winning a silver medal is a grand thing (not really so grand when unlike our wilver medal winner in weight lifting) you have stipends, full time coaches, sports psychologists etc. Still...but the poor lady who worked her fingers to the bones to put her children through university or poly is surely an equal if not more qorthy winner. So the authorities put on a big media show to illustrate how far sighted their foreign talent programme has been. Much better if they have the humility to celebrate our local heroes as well.

family man said...

What don says is right. Importing FT is good, if we WANT a silver olympic medal. What most other people say is also right - we do not need a silver medal if it means a singaporean kid can never climb up to the level to represent singapore. I personally feel we do not need a silver medal by this way, and I prefer Jocelyn Yeo, Pat Chan et el who worked hard, and lost at the olympics.
The millions spent on the siver medal - let us refocus on helping the poor, those on assistance plan, those who need cash instead of some workfare misplaced into CPF where they will never see the light of day....
We are not a welfare state, and we cannot suddenly change our mind and be a welfare state to China 2nd list players, has beens, quitters who after getting their silver and money, decides to balek kampong to study and probably never come back. Seriously, the silver belongs to Singapore, or belongs to China when Tien Wei, Jia Wei and Wang all decides to return home to be with their parents, as they are their only child??
Or do Singaporeans seriously expect these people (only Child in beijing) to abandon their parents, forsake them for the sake of Singapore - their (dare I say...)homeland...hahahaha!

Anonymous said...

anyway u can eat the silver medal.

Anonymous said...

I worked in onr of our local universities and came across many foreign talents, most of which signed on with us because of the scholarships (very substantial, I will tell you). Many of them made no bones about returning to China or immigrating to the USa, Canada, UK, Australia or Europe once they completed their studies. Several had the cheek to ask for advice on how to break bonds. I hope that Mr Wang will not rule this posting as irrelevant but I write to shed some lighy on the issues of foreign talents.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Lee Bee Wah. She was sacrificed by MIW to make Teo SL and Vivian look "good"!!

What's wrong with sacking a supposedly negligent Manager?

Anonymous said...

Singapore definitely has her own talents, they were just dumped by the govt to the wayside.
A brother of a very close friend was a national table tennis player in the mid-seventies. He was only in his teen when he reached the quater finals for the man singles in the world championship tournament. In other words, we can say he was ranked at least the number 8 player in the world at that time. He did it without much support by the govt or any foreign coach, unlike the cry baby Gao Ning. If you want detail of how good our men naitonal TT team was in the mid seventies, please check with STTA records, they were not world beater yet but they sure had the potential with more support.
If we can have players like this in the seventies, we should try our best to discover them now, rather than taking the easy way of importing FTs.

Anonymous said...

I like her apologies. She has made comments which has been misunderstood. NOT that she had made the WRONG comments. So, singaporeans, wake up - she did not say anything wrong ok- You bunch of goondus misunderstood her - ok?
It takes only a foreign import from Malaysia to shoot us in a backhanded way, like the other Malaysian chap who said - no mean testing, got means testing.

Anonymous said...

I happen to be up this way from Brisbane and happen to catch your site courtesy of a mate. Good on you guys to highlight this. Down under each gold medal costs us 15 million according to the telly news. So no tears if you get sack for not delivering. Hey that comes with the territory. You can't deliver you get sack whether you ar Ben Cousins or not. The rest is just bull. I mean if politicians screw up we'll drop him like hot potatoes. Anyway that's just my view from afar.

The said...

/// don said...
But I notice the tendency to conflate all our grievances into one single rant. ///

don - unfortunately, what you said is very true. I guess it is the people's sense of the power-that-be's arrogance and high-handedness in so many areas of life that all these little gripes add up until they explode when given half a chance. Like the Mas Selamat case and now this ping-full-of-pong case.

It is a bit like arguing with your wife. If she loses the current argument, she will bring in all your wrongs in the past 20 years (and maybe previous life) and hantam you with these crimes.

Remember the classics:
1) GST is to help the poor
2) Higher ERP charges is to help traffic flow, etc

Now you can add, sacking you is in recognition for your great effort in bringing in a Silver Olympic medal in 48 years.

Anonymous said...

So, Bee Wah said that goondos singaporeans made mistake in misunderstanding her?

Singaporeans must apologise to her.

How many goondo singaporeans still believe the media slant that Bee Wah has apologised to singaporeans?

Hah! Hah! Malaysia 1 - Singapore 0

Anonymous said...

I greatly respect people who will look up and believe in fellow Singaporeans to do their best, to try their best. Plain and simple.

I do not like the whitewashing of our current (or future) batch of youth and teenagers as not good enough and therefore need to throw money for FT to compete on our behalf.

It doesn't matter if we have to wait for another 100 years to get a Olympic medal, in the same vein, it doesn't mean that we belittle or disregard their efforts and achievements in other smaller international competition. Singaporeans representing Singapore for national pride and glory. Trying their hearts out. This is the main point.

Just like Mark Chan, Patricia Chan, Jocelyn Yeo, Fandi Ahmad and many others to name here. Former Great Athletes of Singapore. They have not won an Olympic medal. Are Singaporeans, past and present, not proud of their achievements? Are Singaporeans not proud of the national pride and glory that they have brought to our nation? No Olympic medals but Singaporeans stands proud with them. Fact number one.

There is controversy surrounding PAP policies in the current FT athletes and players. Fact number two.

People who are proud of their fellow b and b Singaporean athletes and players. I respect. Fact number three.

Anonymous said...

"I worked in onr of our local universities and came across many foreign talents, most of which signed on with us because of the scholarships (very substantial, I will tell you). Many of them made no bones about returning to China or immigrating to the USa, Canada, UK, Australia or Europe once they completed their studies. Several had the cheek to ask for advice on how to break bonds."

of cos, MOE would hv these statistics.

the govt already accelerated the remaking of singapore since 2001. Anyone who remembers back in the early to mid 90s, LKY made remarks abt the safety net for singaporeans. There was also an 'interview' of a singaporean working in one of HK's polytechnics who said he invests and who was quoted to have said the CPF and housing are safety nets.

Point here is that PAP never forgot these things.They began to want to think out of the box - actually out of mind.

PAP has never been forthright and transparent with the people abt its policies and mistakes. How could they be? This is politics. There has never been forthright political debate. They rather believe in their own self-thoughts but they are also trapped in the faustian deal or social compact made with people from years ago. Something that most people refuse to accept that is being annulled.

Anonymous said...

"There is controversy surrounding PAP policies in the current FT athletes and players."


There ARE CONTROVERSIES surrounding PAP policies for FT athletes and players to compete for S'pore. Fact number two.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang. I beg your indulgence if the following comments are too laboured. I am 70 years and have seen something of our nation from the early days. It worries me that our politicians are no longer willing or able to bite the bullet, to be hard headed and to take rational, if tough, decisions. Have our politicians become namby pambies, soft and wet behind the ears? What's wrong with what Mdm Lee Bee Wah said? Maybe she was abrasive but then her comments were surely in line with remarks made by people like Toh Chin Chye and Goh Keng Swee - do not go for the populist approach, choose what is corect no matter how difficult. Our politicians molly coddled and inexperienced as they seem to be nowadays play to the gallery especially to the table tennis players and coach. I can remember not so long ago when the government would have said, "OK. Back to the drawing board. Start again and this time make a better job of it.Remember what we were told when we were ejected from Malsysia or when the British withdrew their naval and air bases from Singapore throwing thousands out of work? Instead politicians are rushing to sound apologetic. No offence to our government but the reason we elect them is because of their perceived ability to make hard headed decisions for the good of the nation. At least that is what they proclaim. What do we have now? I shudder to think? What has gone wrong? Perhaps the government should look at themselves more critically?

Anonymous said...

Have we lay Singaporeans got too carried away by the Olympics? A sport that originated in Greece for its' people to compete, has now become an issue for Singaporeans to compete for glory.

Our leaders want to use the Glory to impress us to win our supports, it is reasonable and justified. That is its' way of politicizing sports to brainwash us. But what has the citizens to gain from the glory?

When we are complaining that livings(survivals) are difficult and indeed they are. Are we to be concerned with glory and fame?

Btw, I think if the Foreign Sports Talents want to improve their skills and professionalism, none should remain in SIN. There are no 'good enough' coaches here nor any equal calibre to spar(train) with.

Anyway, seeking fame and glory while facing more crucial and immediate problems, simply do not make sense. Borrowing the Pingpong(table tennis) Incidents to politically criticize inept leadership is quite apt though.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang, 'Well, for starters, we might send her to play in the SEA Games. Then we might send her to play in the Asian Games.'

Talking about the SEA Games, we have our Every Sea Games WATER-POLO Champions right?

But why wasn't they being fielded in the Olympics?

Aren't they good enough? But they win in EVERY Sea Games.


Anonymous said...

Off topic but Mr Lee is a "manager" not a "coach". His skills in managing "team dynamics" may not be as valuable outside of Singapore.

Why dun we just rescue a hundred or so pregnant mothers (with male babies) from Zimbabwe, Nigeria?

We would be doing a good deed, and have pool of 100 potential "b and b" Singaporean Kanu\Drogba?

Frankly I am so appalled at the FTs we are getting for our soccer team that I no longer mind if we import some1 from Mars if he plays like Cristiano Ronaldo ... my 100 year old grandma can defend better than that Precious dude...

oops talking thru my backside again.

Anonymous said...

What has gone wrong is perhaps the way they go about choosing people to go into politics, the way they always equate everything about the ability to do the job in dollars and cents and their extreme criteria of picking people for holding office.

Are we really correct to assume that ability in political office is always tied to academic excellence and having ideals attuned to the ruling party? Sure, we need smart people, but there are people without excellent academic achievements who can also excel. Two such examples would be our two late Presidents, Wee Kim Wee and Devan Nair.

Most people know President Wee's grace and intelligence very well. I still harbour admiration for Devan Nair, despite what they say about him, for his oratorial and writing skills. He was also an excellent people mover. Those were the days.

Anonymous said...

"They began to want to think out of the box - actually out of mind."

That is not correct. PAP merely followed the same "sound" economic policies as Republican USA. Great Leap Forward to knowledge\service based economy. Fell a bit short though. Our working population was not ready. They had not choice but to import FTs.

Anyway, the Roman emperors used to bring in the best entertainment from the 4 corners of the world to distract the population.

Lets look forward to better gladiators :-)

Anonymous said...

"Merely followed" - that's the worst thing to do.

Anyway, the Romans hired mercenaries etc.

Of cos u noe in the end what happened to the Roman Empire. Gladiators or spartans all die in the end.

(Listen to the 70 yr old brother's message above.)
(Also go google Ngiam Tong Dow)

Anonymous said...

i believe Singapore can qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. juz pay Jose Mourinho $100million per year to be the next manager and convert all the top EPL players to become singaporeans

Anonymous said...

I would like to highlight the plight of Kendrick Lee into this discussion.

Remember, how he done Singapore proud by defeating 2004 Olympic 3rd(Bronze) and 4th place in last yr SEA games? He won us a silver. when he bear the flag for Singapore( he nvr let it sweep the floor), he mentioned he is not tking this lightly, he will done well for Singapore. Indeed, he has. Defeating a host of world class player along the way..

What happen to him in this Olympic? he was ommitted!! his place was taken by an weak minded FT!

He is rank higher than Susilo in current world ranking, and had proven track record of beating the best in the world in last yrs SEA game.

Why, this talented former World Youth #2 was not choosen? When Singapore was given only one place, why the place given to a weak minded FT? who was rightly defeated in quick 2 set in the first round?

Why Kendrick, who was rank higher, and a locally born Singaporean, was marginalised? especially at the age of 24.. the peak of his game now..

and Kendrick.. did stand a very good chance of creating some upset.. like i said.. he did it last SEA games.

Irony.. the Thai player whom he defeated (in Thailand mind you) at last yr's SEA games semi final and was 2004 Olympic 4th place.. was the flag bearer for Thailand in this Olympic..

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang. What worries me about the government is its lack of sensitivity to the larger picture. Policies may be rationally arrived at after debate and discussion but then when set in motion a kind of mindless inertia takes over and the policy is the administered inflexibly as if all and subdry are afraid to amend let alone deviate from or question the policy. The posting of sept 4 notes,

"I would like to highlight the plight of Kendrick Lee into this discussion.

Remember, how he done Singapore proud by defeating 2004 Olympic 3rd(Bronze) and 4th place in last yr SEA games? He won us a silver. when he bear the flag for Singapore( he nvr let it sweep the floor), he mentioned he is not tking this lightly, he will done well for Singapore. Indeed, he has. Defeating a host of world class player along the way."

Our administrators mesmerized by the foreign talent policy are seemingly unwilling to risk the wrath of the powers that be by advocating the possibility of alternatives. So by default, the foreign talent polict becomes set in stone, unchangeable and unalterable.

Anonymous said...

More on Kendrick Lee.

He defeated China's Chen Jin twice in row and latest being this yr's Malaysia Open.

Chen is the current All England Singles Champions..

Most importantly, Chen Jin won 2008 Olympic Bronze medal.

and Kendrick was deny a place to represent Singapore in this yr olympic. A genuine chance of winning a medal for us. and at the peak of his game at the age of 24.

No local talent?

Judge yourself....

p.s more on Kendrick on badminton fans forum..

just look at the determination in his eyes... against the weak minded FT who was choosen ahead of him..

Anonymous said...

Alamak. the Straits Times Forum page (5 September) carried a convoluted reply by Wayde Clews, Chief of the High Performance Group of the Singapore Sports Council, to Vernon Sim's earlier letter on "Punish disloyal foreign talents". After a reiteration (once again to the breach, dear friends) on the need for foreign talents Mr Clews comes coyly to his point which is that while the SSC " works closely with the national sports association to support athhletes throughout their sporting career" it is "a personal decision on an athlete's part should he decide to retire from international competition". In other words. not my business. There you have it from the oracle's mouth. Based on thatline of reasoning it is all right for our scholars to break bonds. Hooray!

Anonymous said...

Hooray for Laurentia Tan, Why is the local press and government so stingy about her victory when she is one of our own and not a foreign talent? This goes to underline what is wrong with the ft policy: an elephantine apprach that seeks to assert only the fts in pursuit of justification where a even handed approach woulc be more appropriate.