• Thu. Oct 5th, 2023

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh says politicians should not be directly involved in sports.

Jul 7, 2023

Leader of the Opposition and Worker’s Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh has suggested that politicians should not be involved directly in sports.

The WP chief made the remark in Parliament on 6 July during a motion tabled on Singapore’s sporting success and supporting athletes, and when he raised the issue of distance runner Soh Rui Yong not being selected for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou by the Singapore National Olympic Committee (SNOC).

Soh is an Aljunied GRC resident, and Singh said that it was “not out of order” for him to raise the matter in the House.

“Politicians should not be directly involved in sports, if only to facilitate raising the profile of Singapore sports and athletes; generating support from corporates, society and parents; and to bring wisdom into disputes like those involving Soh and SNOC,” he said.

Among the politicians currently involved in National Sports Associations are Poh Li San (President, Singapore Table Tennis Association), Shawn Huang (Volleyball Singapore), Jessica Tan (Netball Singapore).

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli is currently listed as a patron of the Singapore Silat Federation.

Current Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong was also a vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore from 2017 to 2020.

Mr Singh also called on the government to intervene in the dispute between Soh and the SNOC.

He said that “in the eyes of many Singaporeans on the Soh Rui Yong matter, SNOC as the highest sporting body in Singapore comes out looking petty even as many also believe that Rui Yong needs to learn from the past and draw a line and focus on his sporting career,” said the WP secretary-general.

“I hope the ministry officials, if not the minister in charge of sports, can intercede to prevent parties from reaching a point where Singapore sport cuts off its nose to spite its own face,” he said.

Singh also called for a “more enlightened and mature approach” from all involved in the Soh vs SNOC matter.

“(SNOC) does not just hold all the cards, but it’s clearly the party in which the power relationship between athlete and state representation resides can make a massive difference,” Mr Singh added. 

“Our sports administrators can afford to take an elevated approach as they have done in the past and be more big-hearted, especially when you consider their collective seniority and contributions to Singapore sports,” he said.

He added that Singapore’s “sporting ecosystem is strengthened when we focus on sporting values, sportsmanship and bringing glory to Singapore.”


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