Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, at the SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship 2019 Award Presentation, on 3 July 2019 at Temasek Polytechnic03 Jul 2019
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin,
President, Singapore National Olympic Council,
Mr Ng Ser Miang,
Chairman, Singapore Olympic Foundation,
Athletes, Parents, Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. A very good afternoon. I am happy to join you today as 280 of our student-athletes receive the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF) – Peter Lim Scholarship.
2. My heartiest congratulations to every scholarship recipient. This scholarship recognises your potential as young athletes. I hope it will encourage you as you continue your sporting journeys.
3. Behind each athlete is a strong community of support. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have walked this journey with our athletes, and made what they have accomplished possible.
a. To the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF) and Mr Peter Lim for supporting the aspirations of our athletes.
b. To the teachers, coaches and mentors for encouraging and nurturing them.
c. And to the parents and families for your love and belief in our athletes.
4. Sports is an important part of our nation building, ever since the early days of our nationhood. Over time, sports has inspired us as a nation, and built a sense of pride among Singaporeans.
a. Our Team Singapore athletes embody the values that represent our society – grit, determination, team work, the relentless pursuit of excellence, and their commitment to give their best for Singapore. Their journeys – often with many ups and downs – inspire us. Singaporeans cheer them on when they are down, and celebrate with them when they triumph. Sports brings out the best in humanity.
b. Many of you here today who are parents and teachers will remember our sporting heroes and heroines from the past, such as
i. High jumper Lloyd Valberg and Hurdler Tang Pui Wah who were the first male and female Singaporeans who took part in the Olympics; and
ii. Weightlifter Tan Howe Liang who won Singapore’s first Olympic medal in Rome in 1960.
c. Over the years, Singapore nurtured more sporting icons, such as Ang Peng Siong, Benedict Tan, C. Kunalan, Fandi Ahmad, Joscelin Yeo, Pat Chan, Syed Abdul Kadir, and countless others. They captivated us with their sporting prowess, and made Singapore proud at regional and international competitions.
d. Today, a fresh generation of sporting icons has emerged. Many Singaporeans will be familiar with names such as Amita Berthier, Feng Tianwei, Jasmine Ser, Joseph Schooling, Martina Veloso, Sheik Farhan, Toh Wei Soong, and Yip Pin Xiu, to name a few.
e. Our athletes endear themselves to many Singaporeans, and we identify with them, many of whom come from humble backgrounds.
a. In particular, many of us will remember vividly how thousands turned up at the victory parade to celebrate Joseph Schooling’s historic Gold medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
b. When Singapore hosted the SEA Games and the ASEAN Para Games in 2015, many Singaporeans came forward to volunteer and offer their support.
c. Sporting successes also inspire us to take up sports at the community and recreational level. Singaporeans from different walks of life bond over sports and keep an active lifestyle. This has helped to expand our common space.
d. Singapore’s sporting moments are woven into our history, and form part of our shared experiences.
6. I have talked about how sports has inspired us as a nation, and brings Singaporeans together. These successes in sports require a strong High Performance Sports (HPS) ecosystem to complement the aspirations and dedication of our Team Singapore athletes.
7. The Government is committed to invest in and grow our HPS ecosystem.
a. The Government invests $70 million per year to fund high-performance sports. Besides putting in financial resources, Sport Singapore works closely with our National Sports Associations (NSAs) to identify, develop and support our athletes.
b. Complementing these efforts, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) helps develop over 1,400 Team Singapore athletes across the various sports, including para sports. The support includes access to sports science and sports medicine expertise, as well as grants to defray their training and competition expenses.
a. The Ministry of Education (MOE) and Sport Singapore are working together to encourage more students to take up sports in school, broadening the base of young athletes from which new talent might emerge.
i. MOE has been running the Junior Sports Academy programme since 2008 to select and guide students to discover their sporting strengths.
ii. The National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) was set up in 2016 to work with stakeholders to build up the youth sports ecosystem.
b. To provide a pathway for young athletes seeking to pursue sports in their secondary school years, Singapore established the Singapore Sports School in 2004.
i. Over the last 15 years, the school has nurtured more than 450 national athletes who represented Singapore at the Olympics, World Championships and other major and international games.
ii. To ensure that talented athletes from lower-income families are not disadvantaged, the Sports School provides scholarships and financial assistance to them.
Every stakeholder has a part to play
10. This brings me to my next point. This ecosystem of support required to bring the best out of Team Singapore athletes cannot be undertaken by Government alone. Every stakeholder has a part to play.
a. When I spoke about how we will build our future Singapore together two weeks ago, I highlighted how Government needs to work better with you. We will need to shift from a Government that focuses primarily on working for you, to one that also works with you.
b. This is no different in the area of sports development. Working together will allow us to better draw on the diversity of passions and expertise among us.
c. We will need to bring together the many stakeholders – including the SNOC, Singapore National Paralympic Council, the NSAs, officials, healthcare professionals, sports scientists, coaches, parents, athletes, corporates, as well as the wider community, including the Singapore Olympic Foundation.
a. Through Sport Singapore’s spexBusiness and spexEducation programmes, corporates and tertiary institutions partner SportSG to support the educational and career journeys of our national athletes. Some companies also provide sponsorships and support for our sports events and NSAs.
b. To augment Government support for HPS, I announced the One Team Singapore Fund in 2017. This is a dollar-for-dollar matching grant, to encourage the wider community to support Team Singapore. The Fund has raised close to $5 million to date.
SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship
12. One individual who has made significant contributions to sports is Mr Peter Lim. His generous donations make the SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship possible. The scholarship benefited and played a part in the successes of many of our Team Singapore athletes who have made Singapore proud.
a. Such as Joseph Schooling;
b. Amita Berthier, Singapore’s first World Junior No. 1 foil fencer;
c. Martina Veloso, Commonwealth Games Gold medallist in shooting; and
d. Muhammad Nur Alfian bin Juma’en and Shanti Pereira, SEA Games Gold medallists in silat and athletics respectively.
a. Mas Ridzwan, a BMX cyclist. Ridzwan is studying at Northlight School. He is a third-time scholarship recipient. The scholarship has financed his cycling equipment, so that he could train and represent Singapore in regional competitions. Ridzwan became the first Singaporean cyclist to qualify for the scholarship’s Under-18 high performance category.
b. Another example is Danica Darshini, a footballer. Danica is studying at Republic Polytechnic and is a first-time scholarship recipient. This is a timely boost for her budding football career. Danica hopes to earn a spot in the national team one day.
c. Yet another example is Tyeisha Rene Misson Khoo, a Track and Field athlete. Tyeisha is currently studying at the Singapore Sports School, and is a first-time scholarship recipient. She competed in local and regional competitions. She is working towards representing Singapore at major international competitions in future.
a. Mr Lim’s continued generosity will enable the Foundation and other stakeholders to support more young aspiring athletes and fund new programmes.
b. More importantly, Mr Lim’s donation is a vote of confidence and belief in our young athletes.
c. I hope that Mr Lim’s generosity can encourage and inspire others in the community to step forward in various ways to support our Team Singapore athletes and the development of sports in Singapore.
15. Let me conclude by once again extending my heartiest congratulations to all scholarship recipients, as well as their parents and supporters. For our athletes to succeed, it requires a huge commitment on their part, and the whole hearted support of their families. So let us all do our part to support our athletes.
16. By bringing our entire community, by drawing on the passions, expertise and support of everyone, we can achieve more together. Finally, I would also like to encourage each athlete to connect with and contribute back to the wider community. Together, we can make a greater impact.
17. To all scholarship recipients, I urge you to seize the opportunities ahead of you and give your best. I know that you will learn a great deal later through the videos and the sharing sessions, including from Libby Trickett. I look forward to seeing you don national colours and make Singapore proud in the future, and to inspire many more young Singaporeans.
18. Thank you.