Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Grace Fu took credit for the Olympic gold achievement of Joseph Schooling and other medal-winning athletes at a press conference on Wednesday (Jan 19). The PAP Minister said that both the art and sports scene in the ministry’s reorganisation under her charge “grew strength to strength”:
“At that time, the arts and sports communities raised concerns about being sidelined, as the words “arts” and “sports” were dropped from the new ministry’s name. Some were also worried about how the arts and sports could be potentially reduced to tools for building social cohesion. I took over the portfolio in October 2015,and both communities have instead gone from strength to strength. In 2016, for instance, swimmers Joseph Schooling and Yip Pin Xiu set new sporting milestones for Singapore at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics. Schooling, in particular, clinched Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in the 100m butterfly. That same year, Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun won the prestigious Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition for young conductors. It brings tremendous pride when we see one of our own excelling internationally… It brings us together as a people to celebrate, give us a cause to celebrate and I think it’s important part to building a narrative of our national heroes.”
Minister Grace Fu however conveniently left out the fact about Singapore football, which reached it’s lowest FIFA ranking of 173th in 2017 under her watch. The table tennis team also went home without any medal during the Rio Olympics. The PAP Minister was also selective of her facts: Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling revealed that he did not receive adequate funding from the government and instead relied on his parents’ savings to enrol in training courses. In an interview with Joseph Schooling’s mother, the lady revealed that she and her husband spent US$100,000 a year over 8 years just on his swimming training:
““I was told, ‘Why you so stupid? If Singapore wants your son to swim for them, they should pay.’ I said, ‘Tan ku ku’ (a Hokkien phrase for “it won’t happen”).”
Along with another Olympic contestant Quah Zheng Wen, Joseph Schooling also opted to train in United States and refused the government’s offer to remain in Singapore.
Other athletes like sailors Denise Lim and Justin Liu had to self-fund themselves. The duo ended up qualifying for Rio Olympics.
The art scene was similarly poorly managed by Minister Grace Fu. Eisner Award winner Sonny Liew had government funding of his award-winning book, the Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, withdrawn because the Minister was unhappy that the book did not portray the government positively.