And the MP for Nee Soon GRC is also very certain that Singapore needs to continue importing foreign mercenaries in order to keep winning those medals.
She said in an interview with the Straits Times that “For the time being, it’s necessary to tap on the foreign-born players. It’ll be a lie to say otherwise.”
The reason for this, is simple – Singaporeans just aren’t good enough. And if they can’t bring in the silverware, sponsors of the table-tennis sport in Singapore will be very angry.
“For us, we cannot afford to lose… the bar is (already) there, and that is our minimal responsibility to our sponsors. We cannot let our sponsors down.”
STTA is one of the best-funded sports associations in Singapore, clinching sponsorship deals and donations that totaled millions under former president Lee Bee Wah.
For example, in January 2009, STTA pocketed more than S$1 million through a fund-raising dinner at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in one night.
“When we have big sponsors, they also want to see results, and they want to be associated with success. So we must win medals to show them that their sponsorship is also good and is producing results”
Ms Lee Bee Wah said at that time that part of the moey would be used for a retirement fund to support ex-players like Li Jiawei, a PRC-born Singaporean table tennis player who has returned to Beijing.
She also said that some of the money would go to youth development.
Ms Ellen Lee recognised that there are Singaporeans who are unhappy with importing foreign mercenaries to represent Singapore. She called this group of people “distractions”, and is under the impression that they are “the few vocal ones”.
“But we have our own views and we feel that we serve a community that is supportive of us and we won’t stop just because there are some distractions.”
She has urged Singaporeans to support the table-tennis associations decisions, and the players in its stable, Singaporeans or otherwise.