WP flashes red card at Govt for its interference in sports

WP's chairman Ms Sylvia Lim speaking at a rally in Hougang on Sept 2, 2015.
WP's chairman Ms Sylvia Lim speaking at a rally in Hougang on Sept 2, 2015. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The Government is being involved in every aspect of life, including in sports and businesses, said Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim.

"The PAP (People's Action Party) wants Singaporeans to be dependent on them," she said.

"But there is more than enough talent in the private sector to drive them. In fact, the country may achieve better results if the Government gets out."

Speaking at the WP rally held at Boon Keng Road - a short walk from Jalan Besar Stadium, which is considered to be the birthplace of local football - Ms Lim recounted how the Singapore football team was once a force to be reckoned with - until government representatives got involved.

Citing Singapore's fourth place in the football competition of the 1966 Asian Games, behind Myanmar (then known as Burma), Iran and Japan, she added: "In the 1970s, the whole nation was riveted behind our boys in blue in their quest to win the Malaysia Cup."

Ms Lim then paid tribute to her boyfriend of over two years, former football hero Quah Kim Song, who led Singapore to victory in the 1977 Malaysian Cup against Penang, netting the winning goal.

"I'm so proud that the man who headed in the winning goal is here with us tonight as my personal driver," she said, to loud cheers and applause from the crowd.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) was not headed by politicians then, said Ms Lim, but by people who were "passionate about the game".

Now, council members in the FAS must first be appointed by a Cabinet minister, before they are confirmed by an election.

"For the last 20 years, the minister decided to place a PAP (People's Action Party) MP in charge of the football association," she added. This has led to the ranking of local football by world governing body Fifa sliding over the years, said Ms Lim.

"The sports minister should be committing hara kiri," she added, referencing a term National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan had earlier used in Parliament as an attack on the WP over its management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

Pearl Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2015, with the headline 'WP flashes red card at Govt for its interference in sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe