Archive for June, 2010

Critics of foreign talent in sports get red card

June 24, 2010

Dear Mr Balakrishnan,

I refer to your comments made at the youth and sports forum as reported by Straits Times on 23 Jun 2010.

You said the survival and prosperity of Singapore depend on us remaining open and being able to attract, absorb and integrate talent of all kinds. Since you have nothing to back what you say, yours is merely an opinion and nothing more.

You said some of our table tennis players have spent more than half their lives in Singapore. The key, Mr Balakrishnan, is ‘some’ as there are others who have only been here for one, two years. Therefore, before you criticise Singaporeans who view foreign-born athletes as less Singaporean, make sure you know who they are referring to. Are they referring to those who have been here for more than half their lives or those who have only been here for one, two years? Clearly our recent table tennis success, which is at the heart of the issue, is due largely to a very recently minted Singaporean.

So if you believe that a person who has only been to Singapore for one, two years can be as Singaporean as any other, you cheapen what it means to be Singaporean. If we take the argument to its fullest, are you going to consider a person who has just landed onto Singapore as being as Singaporean as any other? In that case, all the tourists coming to Singapore are as Singaporean as they can be. The whole world is Singaporean the moment they transit through Singapore.

So it is not that Singaporeans are small minded, unfair and selfish. It is you who have belittled our national pride by cheapening it into something so inconsequential that it can be outsourced to foreigners.

The state of play

June 12, 2010

Dear editor,

I refer to the letter by Mr Patrick Tan dated 11 Jun 2010.

It seems to Mr Tan that we Singaporeans have forgotten that our forefathers were immigrants too. But our forefathers came when they were young and worked their entire lives to earn their place in Singapore. No one forgets or doubts that. While the new immigrants need not work their entire lives to earn their places here, shouldn’t they at least require a good ten years before they earn their places too?

Mr Tan points out that no one questions our great grandfathers’ countries of origins or their loyalties or what they have done for Singapore. But no one makes a big fuss out of our great grandfathers’ achievements either. It is because the government and the press have been making a big fuss out of the paddlers’ achievements that the identification issue surfaces.

Mr Tan suspects that Singaporeans won’t be too critical if our foreign born talents had been the likes David Beckham, Michael Owen and Kaka. He might as well have added other celebrities like Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs from other fields as well. Mr Tan doesn’t seem to understand that celebrities transcend nationalities and are celebrated by fans all around the world. The affection one has for David Beckham is no different from that for the next pop star. That affection has nothing to do with one’s pride for one’s nation.

Mr Tan urges us to take an ‘objective’ and ‘pragmatic’ view which is to pay foreign talent to do what few Singaporeans want to do – to deliver gold. What he is saying is that it is okay to outsource the delivery of gold and achievement of national pride to foreign talent. Can you imagine that? Outsourcing the achievement of national pride to foreign talent? What kind of an oxymoron calling is that?

Mr Tan feels that until local conditions improve, it is best left to foreign talents to win medals for us to put Singapore on the world sporting map. But doing so may put us on the world map of shame and embarassment instead. Imagine paying foreign talent to carry us to the finishing line instead of running our own race. What pride can possibly come out of it?

A very Singaporean story of talent finding opportunity

June 12, 2010

I refer to the letter by Mr Cheng Shoong Tat dated 11 Jun 2010.

Mr Cheng used the example of his own mother who, despite not speaking any English, is a thoroughly born and bred Singaporean to illustrate that being Singaporean doesn’t mean that one has to speak English. But the Singaporean-ness of his mother doesn’t sanctify the Singaporean-ness of China-born sporting talents. The former is a Singaporean all her life whereas the latter may be Singaporean for just one, two years. Surely the Singaporean-ness of Mr Cheng’s mother which stretches all the way back to 1928 cannot be the same as the Singaporean-ness of someone who has only been here for one, two years?

Mr Cheng has faith that our table tennis players will sink roots here but faith doesn’t make one Singaporean. Some foreign-born soccer and track and field athletes have taken advantage of our faith and left us looking like fools. The paddlers’ stories of talent finding opportunity is not a particularly Singaporean one but a global one where Chinese paddlers play for countries all around the world. Theirs are not the same stories as those of our forefathers. Our forefathers were driven here by poverty, they are not.

I do not think that Singaporeans are being small minded when they constantly challenge the Singaporean-ness of those who come later. Because if being here first doesn’t count at all, it means you can be a Singaporean all your life and still not be considered to be more Singaporean than the person who just got his citizenship yesterday.