SINGAPORE - Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said his ministry values all Team Singapore athletes tremendously and will work to engage corporate Singapore to celebrate their achievements.
Mr Tong was responding to questions in Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 14) on the monetary incentives for medallists at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The issue has been in the spotlight recently after swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won two gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Each win will earn her a $200,000 reward, which is one-fifth of the payout for an Olympic gold medal.
Opposition MP Jamus Lim had asked about the parameters that determine the incentive amounts offered under the Major Games Award Programme (MAP) of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) - which manages awards for Olympic athletes - and why there is a distinction between the Olympic and Paralympics.
Nominated MP Raj Joshua Thomas, meanwhile, enquired on steps taken by the Government to encourage more private sector contributions to the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) so that Paralympic medal winners can receive the same quantum as those at the Olympics.
Monetary incentives for Paralympic medallists are administered by the SNPC through its Athlete Achievement Award (AAA) programme.
The Tote Board is the primary sponsor for both the AAA and MAP programmes, which feature contributions from the private sector as well.
In his written reply, Mr Tong said that his ministry is focused on building a structure and comprehensive system to provide sustained support for Team Singapore athletes of all abilities to pursue their sporting aspirations and achieve their potential, adding that the AAA and MAP are "private award schemes".
"MCCY and (national agency) Sport Singapore value all our Team Singapore athletes tremendously," he said.
"We will continue to work with SNOC and SNPC on opportunities to engage corporate entities and members of the public to celebrate our athletes' achievements."
In an interview with The Straits Times after her wins, Yip and other members of the para sports fraternity called for parity in the amounts of cash incentives for medallists at the Paralympics. This was echoed by former diplomat Tommy Koh in an opinion piece published in the Straits Times last week.
The topic also evoked a strong response from Singaporeans who shared their views - some opposing the call for equal cash rewards - in the ST Forum page and on social media.