Tag Archives: The Straits Times

Remembering the Grand Old Dame of Kallang

The Grand Old Dame of Kallang

I stumbled upon this multi-media essay by Straits Times photographer Raj Nadarajan in the Straits Times’ website.

He went to take pictures of the Natonal Stadium being demolished and turned it into a multi-media tribute to the Grand Old Dame of Kallang.

Listening to the voices brought back a lot of good memories. Looking at the photos of demolition work brought a stabbing pain, a profound sense of  loss and a tear to my eye.

Click here for the link to the multi-media essay, then go to the essay “Rubble and Memories’ (the one with the picture of the National Stadium.

Here is also a link to a Wikipedia entry on the National Stadium.

And if you feel up to it, tell me some of your best memories of the Stadium.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Resignations at SingaporeSailing are part and parcel of leadership changes

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times. Similar reports appeared in The New Paper and Today.

Choppy Waters

(The Straits Times, 19 Oct 2010)

Two senior staff members quit sailing federation less than a month before Asian Games

By Lin Xinyi

WITH less than a month to the Asian Games, there are signs that the ride to Guangzhou is not going to be smooth for the Singapore Sailing Federation.

The national sports association yesterday confirmed that two senior staff members – executive director Edwin Low and head of high performance Mark Robinson – had tendered their resignation on Sept 24 and Oct 12, respectively.

However, they are expected to remain in their posts until after the Games in Guangzhou, where sailing is expected to deliver at least two gold medals.

Both men downplayed the significance of their departure and signalled a desire to move on.

According to a source, at least two more full-time staff members and a national coach are poised to leave – a claim denied by the association.

Parting will be hard for 54-year-old Low, who is also the secretary general.

He has been with SingaporeSailing since 2000, and was one of the pioneer staff at the National Sailing Centre.

‘After 10 years, it was definitely a tough decision to leave,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a good time. I suppose with a new management in place, it was a good time to step out before I got too deep in the system.’

Robinson, 36, joined as a technical manager in 2003. When asked if his decision to resign had anything to do with Low’s earlier resignation, Robinson said it was not a factor.

‘It’s just part of an ongoing evolution,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure it’s a dramatic event. I don’t think it’ll have any effect on the Asian Games.’

SingaporeSailing deputy president Dr Loh Kok Hua said that preparations for next month’s Guangzhou Games would not be disrupted.

‘This is a tremendous loss because of their sterling service to SingaporeSailing,’ said Dr Loh, who also chairs the search committee for suitable successors.

‘The most important thing now is to make sure that preparations continue and our sailors are well prepared.’

He expects the transition period to take up to six months but insisted that strategic plans will be carried out.

Low himself had taken over his current post from his predecessor Andrew Sanders in February.

In June, Dr Ben Tan took over the helm from outgoing president Low Teo Ping, who served for 12 years.

Dr Tan could not be reached for comment.

Teo Ping said he was numbed by the news but was quick to pay tribute to the two stalwarts.

Singapore’s chef de mission for the Asian Games said: ‘Knowing that Edwin and Mark are going to play pivotal roles in supporting the sailors, and hearing that they will leave only after the Asian Games, I’m relieved.’

With the Games beckoning, both Low and Robinson are eager to bow out on a high when they leave in April and January respectively.

 Said Low: ‘We’ve been working on the Asian Games project since 2006. We want to see this through and end on a good note.’

My thoughts:

To be honest,  I felt that the reports on Low and Robinson’s resinations in all the three main English papers ie The Straits Times, The New Paper and Today sounded a little alarmist.

Let’s give these two men a little more credit, hey? Yes, they have tendered their resignations, and yes, it is a pity to see them go, particularly Low who is a good bloke and whose ‘uncle-ly’ presence, I am sure, will be missed by the sailors.

But Robinson and Low  are only leaving in January and April, which means they will be around to see the Asian Games through before preparing the handing over process. So for the above report to say that “the ride to Guangzhou is not going to be smooth” is a bit of an extreme view.

Am I shocked by the resignations? Well, I was surprised when I read the reports today but then again, resignations are a common occurence in organisations whenever new leadership takes over at the helm.

For example, six top executives in the Singapore Sports Council subsequently resigned over a period of time after Oon Jin Teik took over as its chief executive in 2004. And now that Oon is leaving to join water management systems company Hyflux next year, it will be normal to expect some of his lieutenants to be quitting soon after his successor takes over.

Likewise, the senior management staff at the Singapore Athletics Association also stepped down soon after Loh Lin Kok announced that he would not be running for the presidency again.

As such, I felt it was a crude and cheap shot for a source to tell The New Paper that the resignations are not as amicable as they seem, that “there is discontent with the new management, wheher it’s because of their modus operandi or something else , I don’t know.”

What the resignations do suggest, however, is that former Singapore Sailing president Low Teo Ping and his successor Ben Tan probably have different leadership styles and that both men have different plans for the sport. And now Tan needs to find his own people to carry out his vision for the future of the sport.

Let’s see whether Tan’s own men can deliver the goods for Singapore sailing. Only after a period of time, when they have settled in, can we then be in a position to say whether the ride ahead for the sport is looking rough or smooth.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Where are your principles, Singapore Badminton Association?

 

The report:

 This report came out in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

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Suspended Hendra may play

(The Straits Times, 04 Aug 2010)

By Lin Xinyi

THE Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) may compromise on a ban it had imposed on national shuttler Hendra Wijaya, 25.

The doubles specialist is currently serving a three-month suspension from all competitions for displaying poor attitude during training this year.

The suspension, dealt by the SBA executive committee, was supposed to end on Aug 24. But now Hendra appears likely to return to competitive action a day earlier in the Yonex-Sunrise Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships.

In the latest list of qualifiers for the Aug 23-29 tournament in Paris, Hendra and brother Hendri Kurniawan Saputra, 29, are confirmed entries for the men’s doubles event.

Edwin Pang, the SBA’s chief executive, said: ‘We had hoped that, by the time Hendra was scheduled to play his first match, his suspension would be over.’

However, based on the tentative schedule, the opening round of the men’s doubles begins on Aug 23.

This means the SBA’s development and selection sub-committee will have to decide by next week whether Hendra will play. Pang conceded that there is a dilemma.

‘In making the decision, we’ll have to consider that letting him play may be perceived as not keeping strictly to the letter of the ban,’ he said.

‘On the other hand, this is an important tournament. The coaches do not want this technicality – the difference of one day – to affect Singapore’s chances of putting up a good show.’

Pang added that Hendra had served a period of unofficial suspension before his official suspension kicked in on May 24.

The player has already missed a number of tournaments, including the Li-Ning Singapore Open and Djarum Indonesia Open Super Series events.

His absence in world-ranking events has seen his doubles ranking drop 20 rungs from No. 22. Regardless, Hendra and Hendri, the 2007 SEA Games bronze medallists, are still recognised as Singapore’s top men’s doubles pairing.

Meanwhile, Zhang Beiwen – the other national shuttler whose three-month suspension owing to ill-discipline also started on May 24 – will definitely miss the world championships.

Her entry in the women’s singles event was withdrawn by the SBA last month. Zhang’s suspension also excludes her from training.

Said Pang: ‘Luan Ching (the singles chief coach) has no way of ensuring that Beiwen trains under his supervision. Based on that, he was not able to recommend her for selection.

‘However, Hendra has been performing adequately in training. Not only in terms of form and fitness but also his attitude, for Eng Hian (the doubles chief coach) to include him in the squad.’

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My thoughts:

I think I can safely guess at what the Singapore Badminton Association’s decision is going to be eventually.

They will lift the suspension on Hendra and let him play in the World Championships, simply because they do not want to upset Singapore’s chances of doing well in the tournament.

And if and when that happens, my already-poor estimation of the SBA will drop a further notch.

Look, if you can’t even discipline your players properly, if you have to do it calculatingly, with one eye on the tournaments that the player will not end up missing, then, it really doesn’t speak well of your office, does it?

Seriously, what sort of message are you sending to your other players who will be watching on with interest?

And we know why the SBA needs to chalk up good results at the World Championships — so that they live up to their KPIs and deliverables to the Singapore Sports Council, and ensure that their level of funding from the SSC for the next financial workyear will not be affected.

Some people may accuse me of having a lack of compassion, or of being inflexible, perhaps even of missing the forest for the trees.

I say that in school, and in life, I was taught to stick to my principles and values, and never to compromise on them.

Please lah, SBA, if there is a message to be sent in the severity of the punishment to Hendra, then please, make sure that message comes out loud and clear.

If he has to feel the pain, if he has to miss out on one of the biggest competitions in the career of a paid professional badminton player, well, then I say too bad. He should have thought of the consequences before he decided to start showing attitude at training.

And so, to the SBA, I say, deal the punishment like a man.

There should be no ifs and buts about it. Because what is at stake is your reputation.

At the end of the day, people are only going to think that you guys are gutless clowns for not having the courage to stick to your guns, opting instead to soften your stand so as to justify your pursuit of the Foreign Talent Scheme and ensure that your level of public funding is not affected.

Seriously, where is the pride in that?

Finally, kudos to The Straits Times for exposing this. I am absolutely sure it would have all been conveniently swept under the carpet at the national body if the intrepid reporter hadn’t gone about digging for information.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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