Give Mr Olympian a just reward
AMID the celebration over Singapore's achievements in this year's Olympics and Paralympics ("Paralympians in victory celebration"; Sunday), I wonder if as much could have been achieved without the facilities, opportunities and encouragement, both material and psychological, that our medal-winning athletes enjoyed.
I wonder, too, how our very first Olympic medallist, weightlifter Tan Howe Liang (photo), must feel.
His achievement at the 1960 Rome Olympics is all the more incredible and admirable, given that Singapore then was struggling with basic problems of survival, and when the pursuit of sporting excellence was a luxury of those with independent means, or an obsession of the truly dedicated.
I believe Tan did not belong to the first group.
I do not know where he is today, or whether he ever enjoyed materially the fruits of his success.
Was he a recipient of a generous bonus for sporting excellence?
Or did he have to work in some lowly paid job for a living, even as he watched large sums being paid out to others who had achieved no more than he did, with the benefit of facilities and resources then unavailable to him?
If so, it is a shame that someone who had achieved sporting glory for Singapore, very much by his own dedication, grit and talent, without the benefit of world-class training, international exposure and the lure of rich bonuses, has been left in want and to fade into oblivion.
Tan is no less a hero than the Olympic heroes we laud today.
Singapore should acknowledge, reward and support him in a way commensurate with his contributions.
Not to do so would show ingratitude to those who had done their part to build our present from the struggles of our past, and our failure to treasure what has brought us to where we are today.
This failure will inevitably erode our pride, loyalty and sense of identity as Singaporeans.
Gan Boey Keow