Cow Beh Cow Bu

Singapore Wins Gold and Silver, But Not Sweet Victory

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Congratulations, table tennis starlets Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan, for winning Singapore its first gold medal of the 28th SEA Games.

The pair of recent citizens beat crowd-favourites, Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu, who had to settle for the silver.

So it’s a win-win for Singapore.

Oh yeah, and you teams have just given table tennis association chief Dr Lee Bee Wah another feather to add to her cap.

But why are people so unhappy that if its a win-win for everybody?

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Let’s take a look at the background of our new paddler darlings.

Lin Ye: 19 years old, born in China, obtained Singapore citizenship in 2013.

Zhou Yihan, 21 years old, born in China, obtained Singapore citizenship in 2013.

The duo were brought in so Singapore could breed them to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Just as their predecessors were brought in to win at all costs.

Let’s contrast public reaction to this table tennis gold, with the pat on the back many gave the Lions XII when the team won the Malaysia FA Cup.

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Very different, the reactions.

Remember Jing Junhong?

The pioneer darling of the Chinese Revolution is the coach of the table tennis team now.

The goal, as always, and which was once again mentioned yesterday by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say is that these talents pass on their expertise.

In the sporting sense, shouldn’t these experts groom our own locals to excel?

Jing was popular because she gave us glory, and more importantly, hope that locals can eventually build on her success.

What we didn’t expect – more quickfire “import and win” solutions.

Little wonder, then, that support for our paddlers is dwindling.

redwire singapore jing junhong

Singaporeans are kiasu (scared lose), but when we win, we want to win on our own merits.

That’s what we’ve been bred to believe in, right? Meritocracy.

How is importing foreign talents to win on our behalf and fly our flag called meritocracy?

I’m not too sure about that, but then again, I’m not the Prime Minister, who holds a First Class Honours degree from Cambridge University.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said back in 2008,

“Singapore has a population of four million … If we want to win glory for Singapore and do well not only in sports but in many other areas, we cannot merely depend on the local-born. We need to attract talent from all over … Look at the Beijing Olympics. Tao Li, the swimmer, she’s done very well. The women’s table-tennis team … they have won an Olympic medal. We welcome foreigners so they can strengthen our team, and we can reduce our constraints. So let us welcome and let us encourage them.”

What I do know is that while our leaders are patting themselves on the backs for another job well done and another gold won, that satisfaction doesn’t filter down to the men and women on the street.

A Foreign Talent Scheme, which allows potential world-beaters to quickly get their citizenship without having to go through any form of PR?

No thanks, I think laymen still prefer our “occasionally-win-a-medal” Singapore born-and-bred athletes.

They might not always be world-beaters, or even SEA Games-beaters, but when they do triumph, at least the glory is sweet.

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