Singapore — Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth Edwin Tong answered questions in Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 12) about how the Government supports high-performing athletes.
Last month, after Loh Kean Yew became Singapore’s first world badminton champion, crowdfunding efforts were carried out to support him because he had received no prize money after his historic win.
So far, some 712 contributors are known to have raised S$366,459 for Loh, including a S$200,000 gift from the family foundation of Indonesian tycoon Bachtiar Karim.
“We hope to inspire future Loh Kean Yews in Singapore,” said the tycoon’s daughter, Cindy Karim.
PAP Members of Parliament Xie Yao Quan (Jurong GRC) and Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) filed questions about the support that athletes in Singapore received, as well as future plans to attract world-class coaches.
Mr Tong mentioned the High-Performance System (HPS), a S$70 million a year programme that provides elite athletes end-to-end support and development. Part of this support is personalised training, as well as counselling, sport science and medicine under one component called the Daily Training Environment.
“The Government’s support for our elite athletes is not just a matter of dollars and cents, not just financial support, it’s not just about coaching … It also extends to many other aspects of our athletes’ lives.
The government invests in the system, and continually enhances it so that our athletes will be supported and developed in a way that best addresses their individual needs and maximises their potential. The focus is on enabling each athlete to be at their best, do their best, and succeed against the best,” he said.
The minister also said that “a significant portion of funding also goes to supporting our athletes directly,” including funds under the spexScholarship, which gives athletes a monthly amount to help with their daily expenses.
Loh is one of the 76 athletes currently part of the scholarship program.
Mr Tong mentioned several other programmes that support athletes, both financial and otherwise.
Many commenters were critical online, however, and took issue with the minister’s “dollars and cents” remark.
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