Veteran politician Chiam See Tong sets up sports foundation for children

Mr Chiam See Tong, his wife Lina and members of the board with youths from Pekik, a beneficiary of the newly launched Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, at the Arts House on March 9, 2017.
Mr Chiam See Tong, his wife Lina and members of the board with youths from Pekik, a beneficiary of the newly launched Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, at the Arts House on March 9, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Mr Chiam giving a pair of boots to a youth from Pekik, one of the beneficiaries of the Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, on March 9, 2017.
Mr Chiam giving a pair of boots to a youth from Pekik, one of the beneficiaries of the Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, on March 9, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Mr Chiam speaking a few words at the launch of the Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, on March 9, 2017.
Mr Chiam speaking a few words at the launch of the Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, on March 9, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Veteran opposition politician Chiam See Tong, who will turn 82 later this week, launched a sports foundation in his name on Thursday (March 9) evening, to encourage young children from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in sports.

The Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, will start with an initial kitty of about $70,000, made up of contributions from the Chiam family, as well as donations from the board.

His wife Lina Chiam told the media at the launch, held at the Old Parliament House, that the idea to set up a sports foundation came about six months ago, in part inspired by Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling's historic Olympic gold.

"Mr Chiam has always been keen in sports," said Mrs Chiam, adding that in his younger days, Mr Chiam was a keen sportsman who swam and played badminton.

"Now that he is not active in Parliament... we were thinking we can do something for the people, for the under-resourced children."

Mr Chiam, who spent 27 years as an MP in Potong Pasir before he was defeated in the 2011 general election, also thanked the audience for supporting the foundation, which is now working on getting registered as a charity.

He also presented football boots to 15 footballers from Pekik - a team formed by boys who live in an estate of rental units in Jalan Kukoh.

The launch was attended by Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan, one of his predecessors S.S. Dhillon, Paralympians Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh, as well as former national sprinter U.K. Shyam.

Said Mr Chan: "I was touched to know that Mr Chiam has a heart for the sporting community. Despite his health, he made the effort to come here to present the boots to the boys."

The foundation will focus on helping school-going children, with a target of at least 100 beneficiaries in its first year, said former national swimmer Ang Peng Siong, who serves as chairman of the foundation's board.

Apart from financial aid, the foundation will also organise networking events for aspiring athletes to meet accomplished sportspeople, he added.

Details of how the funds will be disbursed, as well as the eligibility criteria for beneficiaries, are currently unavailable.

But a 24-hour swimathon fundraiser is in the works, said Ang.

He hopes to get Mr Chiam, who has suffered two strokes, swimming as well.

"Mr Chiam... we want to encourage him to get back in the water too... at least swim one lap."