The Facebook group calling for Ms Lee’s removal from STTA. Click on picture to join.
So, it appears the Olympics table tennis saga has ended.
Only because the Gahmen said so. Or so we are led to believe by a rather vague press conference (as reported by Channel News Asia, maybe other media will flesh this out more.)
SINGAPORE: The controversy surrounding the Singapore Table Tennis Association has been called to a close by the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports.
In a special media conference on Friday evening, it announced that team manager Antony Lee will continue for another three months, to finish up his Olympics reports. He will then move to the Singapore National Olympic Council in November.
The association will also have two separate head coaches, one each for the women’s and men’s teams.
President of the Singapore Table Tennis Association, Lee Bee Wah, apologised for causing grievances and stress. With that, the dust has settled over a week-long saga that mired Singapore’s silver medal win at the Olympic Games. Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said the issue was caused by misunderstandings and ties have been mended.
He added that the local sports scene, especially the Singapore Table Tennis Association, has emerged stronger from the incident.
It’s pretty obvious what has happened.
New STTA president messes up by dissing her own team in public. The public goes nuts over her dampening of our first Oly medal in 48 years. Gahmen gets alarmed, steps in and tells everyone in the team off. Calls for hasty press conference on a FRIDAY NIGHT (people got a life you know). STTA president issues a way overdue apology in order to keep her job and save whatever is left of her face. Rest of table-tennis team stands together in public to tell everyone everything is ok, because it’s not possible to do otherwise anyway. Team manager keeps his job…sort of. Gahmen says “IT’S OK. MATTER CLOSED. STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.”
Well, I hope the average Singaporean can see what’s happening for themselves, apart from the fact these guys don’t know the social value of a Friday evening.
The matter is far from closed because as of time of writing, we have no idea what the misunderstandings were. Controversies are not closed by one sentence by a minister, but by a general agreement with those affected. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s the whole country who needs to agree with him.
And I’m pretty sure you can’t mend ties overnight, especially with sobbing male table-tennis players on television and angry words exchanged in the media by key parties. And lots and lots of angry online postings.
At this point, I can only see a few logical next steps:
Ms Lee Bee Wah really has to step down now because it’s the honorable thing to do. And sports is all about honor and glory.
Just because the Gahmen says she has done/will do a good job doesn’t mean the rest of the population agrees. And it’s our taxpayers’ money that funds these people, not some private angel fund.
She issues an apology that she should have one week ago – the real issue is not her management decision (why, she may have been completely right to re-org the team for matters we may not be aware of), but her extremely poor public timing that she should fess up to.
And the fact she hurt an entire country’s ego and pride by letting on about a decision that should not have been made public. She might blame the reporter for misrepresentation, but the fact is that she said what she said, without realising its real impact.
Why should future table tennis stars have faith in that she’ll do well, given that she refused for the longest time to admit any wrongdoing?
And why are people who have no experience in dealing with sportsmen running the show here? Where are our sporting greats who know the pain and agony it takes to get to the top and stay there?
So why do we have trouble winning medals? It’s not necessarily a factor of not having the right talent, but the right management. We complain all the time about the foreign talent we hire in SG, but do we complain about the people who hire them? Why aren’t we gunning for the people responsible for the state of matters, instead of blaming the symptoms of their decisions?
The Minister ought not to take our intelligence for granted if he wants to be credible with the masses. The more you try to tell people to shove it, the more they will push back, especially online.
We can see what’s wrong for ourselves, even though we may not know the full picture. We don’t have to be told whether an issue is closed or not, and we’d be fools to let this matter rest with such vague and sweeping answers.
Sports may or may not unite a country, but a public dressing down of high-achieving sportsmen and their managers rankles everyone who has a degree of EQ.
Get it right, we’re not unhappy over individuals, we’re unhappy over the lack of sportsmanship and political etiquette by the people who are supposed to champion it.
Of course, this perception may be the result of the way the news report was broadcast. Who knows? But like I said, the entire country has been hurt, and there’s no remedy in sight.
Anyway, we can only talk here, won’t change anything except the hope we actually have an impact on Ms Lee’s ability to see sports in the way she should. Have a good laugh at Mr Brown’s latest MP3 on the Pingpongsaga.
Update: Indeed, CNA’s report left out alot of stuff, probably because of the short time left for editing. ST’s report tells alot more, but my points above remain the same.