COS SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT PARLIAMENT’S BUDGET 2020 COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY DEBATE FOR MCCY
In the midst of COVID-19 affecting Singapore and rest of the world, the subjects of “national resilience”, “community bonding”, and “national pride” in how Singapore manages the epidemic is popping up in my constituency. Coincidentally, true sporting nations typically display such positive attributes. In fact, I recall that the Committee of Sporting Singapore report in 2001 (championed by Mr Goh Chok Tong) articulated these three desired outcomes of a Sporting Singapore, the other two being “vibrant society & economy” and “international friendship”.
Minister Grace Fu was quoted by Straits Times on 16 Jan 2020 that “there’s so much more that we can do before we can really call ourselves a sporting country”.
But we have made progress, and I cite the example raised by SMS Sim Ann during Parliament on 5 Nov 2019 that more people with disabilities (PWD) are participating in sport, with the Government exploring how a related master plan can make more progress.
Rewinding back the clock: in 2010, Singapore was awarded: (1) the Gold for Sports City Award at the 2010 International Sports Events Management Awards, and (2) Runners-up for the 2010 Ultimate Sports City at the Sports Accord Convention. The international sporting community took notice of this little red dot’s sporting achievements during the 2001-2010 period.
GDP contribution from the sports industry grew from $300 million in 2000 to $1 billion in 2008, including the hosting of the 2005 International Olympic Committee Session, 2008 inaugural F1 Singapore Grand Prix, 2009 inaugural Asian Youth Games, and 2010 inaugural Youth Olympic Games.
The job creation objective was catalysed by the startup of Singapore Sports School in 2004, the launch of UK Loughborough University’s sports science degree in partnership with NTU, the emphasis of sports health leisure by Republic Polytechnic, ITE, and other private institutions.
Working under MOU partnerships, the Economic Development Board (EDB), the previous Media Development Authority (MDA), and Singapore Sports Council successfully courted international companies to relocate to Singapore and thereby created new jobs, e.g. ASICS, Decathlon.
Target for Singapore Sports Industry
In 2008, the former MCYS Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, announced a target for the Singapore sports industry: $2 billion annual contribution to Singapore’s GDP and the creation of 20,000 jobs by 2015. Sir, the sporting fraternity seeks an update on the GDP contribution and jobs created.
Singapore Sports Hub
Next, Singapore Sports Hub. For this national iconic project, much has been said about the Public Private Partnership model; however, the sporting fraternity has yet to see positive changes that will convince Singaporeans that we have the right private sector partner running this national project.
Instead, we have witnessed a continuous exodus of staff, including the majority C-suite of SportsHub Pte Ltd in 2019-2020: CEO, CFO, COO, Chief Commercial Officer, and General Counsel. From public reports, there has also been critical changes to the shareholders and key partners. Example: the 83% majority shareholder InfraRed Capital Partners has been acquired by Sun Life. Is this a material change? Will it further impact negatively the desired outcomes of the project?
Sir, it would be timely for Minister to provide us with an update on the situation at Singapore Sports Hub, given that we are approaching the end of six years of full operations. Please also update how we will keep our sporting calendar vibrant, given the non-performance of the contractual promise by SportsHub Pte Ltd to host 90 sporting event days per year at National Stadium. Are we getting “value-for-money” for this national project?
Long Overdue for a new Yishun Town Sports Centre
On this subject, I would like to appeal to MCCY once again. Tampines has Our Tampines Hub; Bedok has Heartbeat @ Bedok; Sembawang has Sembawang Integrated Hub.
What does Yishun have? A rundown swimming complex opened in 1988 and an old sports stadium opened in 1992. The remaking of our sports facilities is to remain relevant and affordable, and to meet demands of the community. I am sure the population of Yishun town has grown, and Yishunites deserve more and better sporting facilities.
Thank you, Sir.
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