Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Singapore’s Olympic Medal and the Instant Fish

Instant fish. Add water and they swim.

Another Olympic individual medal won. A bronze medal that is brought back by China-born Feng Tianwei this year, in table tennis women's single. After a lapse of 52 years. The very first and our very first silver Olympic medal was earned by Tan Howe Liang in weightlifting event in 1960.  

Congratulations to Feng Tianwei, for her hard work, determination and dedication to this sporting event. She should be proud of herself and be applauded for the achievement. She did it afterall, not us.  

Feng came to Singapore in 2007 as a ready-made table tennis player and was fast tracked to Singapore citizen in time for showcase in the Beijing Olympics 2008. In short, she was a direct import to churn medals for Singapore at international level and for that single purpose she serves. It makes no difference even if she has lived here for more than a decade or has integrated well. It is a bare fact that she was b(r)ought over for a purpose.

This bronze medal cannot come at a more convenient time for the Singapore government as an endorsement to its undisclosed intention of opening up our country further for foreign workers/talents. Even after controversially pumping in 2 millions of foreign nationals into our already space-constraint island and workforce, thrusting millions of foreign nationals upon the citizens, the number of foreign nationals is still far from satisfactory for the government who is bent on further foreign imports.

The media propaganda mechanism wasted no time in spinning about Feng's victory, blatantly claiming it as Singapore's. Ministers and MPs too jumped readily onto the bandwagon of national pride, cuddling their baby--foreign talent scheme.  

Honestly, I am really happy for Feng's success at an individual level.

But to see our flag flying at the Olympics because of her is embarrassing and a disgrace. No, Feng did not embarrass or disgrace us but the persons who went ahead of employing mercenary to play sports under our flag did. It bares their pathetic shallowness of the understanding of true victory. It is a humiliation to the spirit of sports. People who supported the idea of buying sportsmen and women to play under our flag devalue the purpose of Olympics too.

We have to stop and check the purpose of winning at the Olympics. Would we be equally convinced by the quality of sports demonstrated by the UAE if they were to win all the events with the best athletes purchased across the globe? Would the number of medals that they accumulate be able to ascertain their excellence in sports?

There is nothing shameful about losing in a match but to win unscrupulously, it is.

For medals themselves cannot claim victory. Some sportsmen won medals yet lost in the way they won. And one can be victorious in a defeat too. Just look across the straits, what Lee Chong Wei, a home-grown badminton player of the minority in Malaysia has achieved. Though failing to clinch the gold, but in the least, Malaysia supported him. For us, we were simply dumped and the easy path of buying better players to win for us was chosen instead.

Globalization has seen a rising number of non-native athletes representing their adopted nations at the Olympics, such as the likes of Mo Farah, born in Somalia, representing Britain; Nigera-born Francis Obikwelu for Portugal where both were naturalized before their athletic talents were uncovered in their respective adopted countries. However, they were not imported directly like Feng Tianwei into Singapore.

And yes, we do see China-born ready-made table tennis players representing other nations but often a mix of local and ready-made players in the participating teams, not to the extent of Singapore where both women and men teams for London Olympics comprises entirely of China-born ready-made players. What is the value of such a medal won by an imported team for Singapore?

Look at our exhilarated MPs, ministers and president over the newly-minted medal. These are the leaders of our country and people. Clearly, as it can be seen, from their expressions on “our victory”, they are the kinds who value only outcome. Anything else is worthless. Precisely why Minister Khaw Boon Wan has apathetically told our people to get out of his sight and retire in Malaysia if they cannot afford retirement in Singapore. And surely they will not hesitate to discard their people to produce their desired outcome. They could do that for a worthless medal, they could do that for anything else.

Whilst Lee Chong Wei’s country stood behind him in his sporting event, our very own leaders turn away from their own people to foreign imports who could increase the possibility of winning at the Olympics. Or in other words, a higher return for the funds invested in sports.

I am not in the least ashamed that we cannot produce quality local talents to compete at international level and not to mention the fact that there is no pressing need to achieve that. And neither is winning at the Olympics a matter of life and death for us. Why are our leaders so infatuated with an Olympic medal? Does NOT winning a single medal bring the downfall of our people? Or the country would go to drains without an Olympic tinted medal?

 I see more glory and honour in sending our home-grown talents to compete and lose than to buy a player to win for us. If we cannot clinch the victory ourselves, what is the purpose of winning?

It is the fact. Our government is constantly looking for instant success. Akin to instant fish. Add water and they will swim for you.

Embarrassingly, the culture of instant success permeates every level of this country. Rootless trees to create overnight vegetation, instant imports of expertise from abroad instead of grooming locally, building casinos to create jobs, open the flood gates to foreigners to boost population growth. And buying athletes to win at sports. If only we could buy instant ministers from abroad who are value for money for our Cabinet.

Then that would be fair.