By: Augustine Lee
I refer to the letter published in TISG, ‘Feng Tianwei has helped Singapore win many glories and medals‘. I have been accused of being xenophobic just because I shared my personal views about the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FSTS).
Those that attacked me (a ‘born-and-bred’ Singaporean) used labels like ‘xenophobic’, ‘stupid’, ‘fool’ and ‘idiot’. One person even who hurled vulgarities at me and asked me to leave the country.
Yes, even with local talents, there are risks that they would not return after being sponsored by the state. I acknowledge that this this risk is universal and that it can happen in any country. China for example, has seen many bright athletes migrate when they are in their prime. They selfishly chose not to “repay” the debt which their home country had bequeathed on them, by nurturing and sponsoring them from a young age.
In the case of Singapore however (from my limited knowledge), there are no examples of local born athletes who broke their bonds and chose not to serve our country.
There are several reasons for the unhappiness with FSTS. One being that our Government chose the easy way out in order to win medals and bring fake glory to our country.
The money the Government spent on these foreign talents could have been spent to nurture eager and hardworking local talent instead.
One example is Quah Zheng Wen. If he had more funds to be trained longer in the US, he could have gone on to excel further in the Rio Games. If SEA games gold medallist Aisyah had some funds and good coaching, she might have a good shot at a medal too. Let’s not forget that she had to crowdfund $14,000 just so that she could train to bring glory to our country.
The fact that foreign talents are paid a salary, while the local talents have to fork out their own money is very disheartening.
Singaporeans do not fault the foreign talents. Afterall, who will work without a pay? But we only ask that the Government better recognise and support our local talents who excel in the sports of their choice and choose to represent Singapore – out of true love for their own country.