Singapore table tennis (part 2): Damning quotes, damning facts

Rifling through my collection of old newspaper articles on Singapore sporting successes ( I know – I’m strange that way but I do keep them for my personal records and references), I came across these quotes.

Thought I’d reproduce them as a reference to my previous posting, and to show how the values and ideals  ofa national sport association (NSA) can change over time when it embarks in the vain and relentless pursuit of glory, at the expense of all its other duties as a Guardian of the sport.

These two quotes were made in 1997.

Choo Wee Khiang (president, Singapore Table Tennis Association ) 

“We’re talking about a marathon, not a 100-metre dash. We’re talking about long-term goals. We can always invite world-class players to live in Singapore and play for us, but I would prefer to see our home-grown players winning the medals instead. There’s no reason why we can’t do it. After all, we are spending a lot of money on our foreign coaches.” (The New Paper, 9 April 1997 )


Col (Ret) Kwan Yue Yeong (then-executive director of the Singapore Sports Council ) after the national men’s and women’s teams’ successes at the 1997 Commonwealth Championships:


“Our support for the STTA is guaranteed. The results from the Commonwealth championships are a confirmation of the faith we have placed in the association. 

“Running a national sports association is not a one-man show. It needs a far-sighted president, solid coaches, administration and dedicated players

“Without one of these factors, everything will fall through. But everything came into place at the Commonwealth championships. 

The STTA is an example of a well-run organisation. Our support will be there. If it justifiably needs more money, we’ll give it more money if that is what its needs to produce even better results.” (The Straits Times, 8 May 1997 ) :


(Note: The women’s team then was made up of Jing Junhong, Tan Paey Fern, Koh Li Ping, Li Jia Wei. In other words, two locals and two naturalised citizens.

The men’s team: Sen Yew Fai, Lai Chin Pang, Koh Chin Guan, Ong Chih Kiat. In other words, all local players )

Fast forward to today, and in particular, the reply by STTA general manager Jackie Tay last week to SSC chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik’s remark on why the STTA is not considered a role model national sports association.

Oon Jin Teik (SSC chief executive officer ) :

“Table tennis did not fulfil all the factors as we are looking at youth development and whether there is a sustainable system (for developing athletes). There is no pipeline for youth athletes … an NSA may be winning medals but is there a high performance system in place?”  (TODAY, 12 June 2008 )


Jackie Tay (STTA general manager ) :


“Being a role model NSA is not key for us, as our vision and mission is in elite development and high participation.” (TODAY, 12 June 2008 ) 


 (Note: The women’s team: Li Jiawei, Sun Bei Bei, Wang Yuegu, Yu Mengyu, Feng Tianwei (As reported in The Straits Times, 10 June 2008). All China-born, naturalised citizens. No locals.


The men’s team: Gao Ning, Cai Xiaoli, Yang Zi, Jason Ho. Three China-born naturalised citizens. One local paddler. )


Finally, I’ll leave you with an interesting factoid from The Sunday Times ( 9 March 2008 ) on the number of China-born paddlers who have represented Singapore over the years: 

Gao Ning; Yang Zi; Cai Xiaoli; Wang Yuegu; Li Jiawei; Feng Tianwei; Sun Beibei; Yu Mengyu; Zhang Xueling; (left Singapore ); Xu Yan (left Singapore ); Jing Junhong (retired ); Zhang Taiyong (retired ); Duan Yongjun (retired ).


Total: 13 – Eight sill active, five either retired or left Singapore.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Part One: Singapore table tennis: is there more – or less – than meets the eye? 


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2 thoughts on “Singapore table tennis (part 2): Damning quotes, damning facts

  1. 8percentpa says:

    Would you know how much was spent on developing local talents vs foreign imports?

    I think the papers say a total of $5mn has been spent on helping athletes in badminton, sailing, shooting and table tennis.

    This is a very good investment for an Olympic silver medal.

  2. 8percentpa says:

    I read with interest how STTA stance has changed over the years.

    It is unfortunate that no locals brought back our medal this time round.

    I also understand that Mr Choo, so-called the man behind the medal, had wanted to develop young talents in Singapore only to be rejected by their parents.

    And if I am not wrong, world class talents don’t just pop up every day. M’sia managed to produce 1 Lee Chong Wei after 12 years.

    Choo spent 20 years building the sports from scratch. Singapore was jeered at competitions in 1990. This medal is his life work.

    On hindsight, they probably should have field at least 1 Singaporean (maybe Tan Paey Fern) like in Athens. I think they wanted to be 100% sure that we can get a medal in Beijing. They cannot wait another 4 years. Choo cannot wait another 4 years. He just announced to retire.

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