In a Friday Insight interview with The Straits Times (9 May 2008 ), retired civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow was almost spluttering with rage as he described his inability to understand why the Government was so reluctant to raise public assistance from $290 to $330 but was pouring millions into the Singapore GP with ease. Read the partial interview here
Ouch. That statement by Mr Ngiam Tong Dow should have raised quite a few eyebrows in the Government.
I am sure the authorities have rated the Singapore GP a potentially sound investment because of all the tourism dollars it is bound to bring in, and also because of the good it will do to Singapore’s efforts to brand itself as a major sports hub.
Clearly, the tourism dollars are pouring in. The Straits Times carried a report the next day (“Over 80% of S’pore GP tickets sold”, 10 May 2008) which quoted Singapore GP media and communications director Jonathan Hallett as saying that over 40% of the tickets were purchased from overseas.
But I just couldn’t help thinking of Mr Ngiam’s pointed comment when I saw the table of ticket prices that accompanied the 10 May report.
The most expensive ticket – the Exclusive Paddock – is $7,500. The least expensive – the General Walkabout (GW) (and frankly, when you look at the graphic, I don’t know how much of the race you can see from there) – is $168.
Clearly, the Singapore Grand Prix is not going to be an event for the ordinary man on the street. It is for the rich, the famous and the people with deep pockets. And the ticket prices only serve to deepen the sense of the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the poor.
(I mean, let’s do the math: two GW tickets will cost $336 – what a person on Public Assistance will receive a month).
I end this post with a plea to those who are still contemplating buying tickets to the Singapore GP: Why not donate the money instead to a charity of your choice?
And then spend that day chugging some ice-cold beers with a bunch of friends and watching the race live on a wide-screen television set. You will get to see a lot more of the race and you may even have a better time.
Yours in sport,
Singapore Sports Fan