Double Happiness

Our women’s table-tennis team just gave Singapore its first Olympic (silver) medal in 48 years.  48 years – that’s a wait that started even before Singapore gained independence.  Kind of put things into perspective doesn’t it?  Our girls fought hard.  They clawed tooth and nail for every point in the semi-final against Korea to earn their place in the final.  And though China proved the stronger team, I’m still extremely proud that our girls never gave up.  They pushed China to show their mettle in every rally and that was good enough for me.

There have been some naysaying Singaporeans though.  Saying that it’s no big deal because our 3 players were born in China and were brought to Singapore to play table-tennis for us under our Foreign Talent programme.  Supporters of the Foreign Talent programme have defended it by saying it doesn’t matter where the players are from since almost every nation in the world has a China born table-tennis player. (What, you thought all the Nigerian and Korean table-tennis players were born and bred in those countries?)  Their stand is, if others can do it, why can’t we?

Personally, I look at it differently.  To every Singaporean who thinks we need a Singapore born citizen to represent us in sports, I have this question – Where did your grandparents and/or great-grandparents come from?  Was it not China, Malaya or India?  At 43 years old, Singapore is a very very young nation and the vast majority of our citizens descended from migrants who came to Singapore in search of a better life.  We, of all countries, should be less xenophobic!

So I say, "加油!".  I’m proud of Li Jia Wei, Feng Tian Wei and Wang Yue Gu.  Thank you for letting Singapore’s flag be raised for the first time in the Olympics.  I hope you girls get more medals in the singles matches in the next couple of days.  Go Team Singapore!  May you get double happiness at the tables.


P.S. Did you know Tan Howe Liang, our first silver medalist at the Olympics in 1960 also migrated here from China?

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August 2008