Singapore bagged 8 gold medals in the Commonwealth Games. Not bad for a tiny country more known for the rat-race and the horse-race than the 100m race. It is an achievement that would have brought joy, pride and happiness to any country let alone Singapore. But sadly not. Why?
The reason is just because most of the gold medallists are China-born athletes. And because of this, there have been so much negativity with foreign media and athletes accusing Singapore of cheating and un-sportsmanlike behaviour. It is like doping, they say.
But what is more discomforting is that most Singaporeans themselves are not proud of their country’s achievement. They seem to mirror the sentiments echoed by the sporting world. Some even expressed their shame and disgust at the hollow success and compared it to Singapore government’s penchant of wanting to be the top in everything at all costs.
The initial objective of the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FSTS) had looked good, at least on paper. It was to attract foreign sportsmen and women to our shores by actively soliciting ready-made `products’ with offers of training grants, citizenships, allowances, accommodations and monetary rewards for success on the International sporting stage. Hopefully, they would in-turn promote and stimulate locals to attain sporting excellence. Most importantly, the success that they would bring in International competitions would be a source of national pride; something for them to celebrate.
But after so many years and so many medals, the stated objectives seemed to have been lost somewhat. It was not helped by the fact that many of the imported sportsmen and women left this country after they had milked whatever benefits there were to enjoy and returned to China. Most importantly, Singaporeans, the intended customers were not impressed. It is like organising an expensive rock concert where instead of receiving accolades and applause, brick-brats and rotten eggs were being thrown instead.
Perhaps it is time for the Singapore government to re-think the FSTS. Fact of the matter is that it has failed to achieve the intended objective of delivering a sense of national pride through sporting achievements. In fact, the opposite has occurred. We have been accused of being a cheat and indulging in unsportsmanlike behaviour.
So what if we are not Olympic Champions? Most people would understand. We are a small country with a small population. Even India with a billion over people is not known to be a sporting power house. We can strive to be good in other things. We are already one of the best in many other fields that matter; in healthcare, housing and education.
And those are the gold that really glitters!