Lee Bee Wah quits because of foreign talent issues

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Nee Soon GRC MP sheds tears after reporting that she will not be taking part in the STTA presidency the upcoming month.

Being the president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) for six years, the sport achieved many new heights, such as winning many Olympic medals for the women’s team in London and Beijing and obtaining over S$10 million in the form of sponsorship dollars. However, her adversaries have commented that she achieved it at the expense of local talent.

Lee Bee Wah, announced on the 15th of August that she will no longer be competing in the re-election which is due to be held next month, is being continuously dogged by the matter of foreign talent in sports.

While the recently conducted Commonwealth Games observed the national paddlers obtaining 6 out of 7 medals at Glasgow 2014, many Singaporean fans started complaining on social media about the numerous foreign-born players in the team, which has two Singaporean-born paddlers Isabelle Li and Clarence Chew.

The same issues has surfaced more than a few times in the past six years, especially when a team of three Li Jiawei, Feng Tianwei, and Wang Yuegu won gold at the World Championships four years ago. Ms. Lee pointed out yesterday that the STTA has been striving to improve the talent of their youth. For example, the STTA implemented a STTA-PAP Community Foundation program for children in kindergarten. The STTA has included training centers for paddlers from 5-11 years of age and a School-Within-A-School program which is located at the Singapore Sports School to develop future players for the nation.

During the Commonwealth Games women’s team final, Ms. Lee suggested the coach to field Isabelle Li for two single matches. However, the coach declared that Isabelle was not ready. If she had been fielded and lost the gold, they still would have been criticized.

Their aim is to leave no difference between foreign born and local players. Her six year tenure was not free from controversies. She started off with a great start after Beijing Olympics 2008 when she warned to take action against Liu Guodon and Antony Lee for a mishap that saw Gao Ning playing a match without the supervision of a coach on the sidelines. Ms Lee was a part of a disagreement with SNOC (Singapore National Olympic Council) ahead of Jakarta SEA Games 2011 after the idea to field more local players observed national selectors wanting to eliminate women’s and men’s teams from the initial contingent.

The STTA will reveal the candidates for the election on 25th August. The election will be held at the biennial general meeting on September 6th with Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Alex Yam and Sembawang GRC MP Ellen Lee to compete for the posts of deputy president and president.