Two Singapore Table Tennis teams ended up facing each other in the South East Asian (SEA) Games because they have beaten every South East Asian country. The two teams are Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu, originally from China, and Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan, also originally from China.
The Singapore Government offers luxurious remuneration and fast tracked Singapore citizenship for top China players to play for Singapore. Under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme, foreign sportsperson can become a Singapore instantaneously without having to go through the traditional Permanent Residency requirement, they will also be sponsored with a full time salary.
However, such foreign-turned-Singaporean players have little or no integration with the Singapore society. All of the table tennis players from China, are not able to communicate in English and would only answer interviews in Mandarin.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2008 National Dary Rally speech, said:
“In the Olympics contingent, there are 25 members, half of whom are new Singaporeans. Why do we need them? Make a single calculation. The Chinese have 1.3 billion people. 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.”
Do you support Singapore’s manner of buying foreigners to win medals?