Chiam See Tong – Champion of Sports


Opposition MP Chiam See Tong sparred with the Government on an untypical topic – getting a team ready for the next (1992) Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

He challenged a reply from Minister of State (Community Development and Education) Dr Seet Ai Mee. She said Singapore would go through the “usual preparation”.

“The usual preparation is not good enough for me,” rebutted Mr Chiam.

Dr Seet parried his blow. She noted that Singapore was too small to produce many Olympic medallists.

“No excuse, No excuse!” shot back Mr Chiam.

-The New Paper, Pg. 8, 14 March 1989 

Former Parliamentarian Mr Tan Soo Khoon pays tribute to Mr Chiam See Tong

Mr Chiam as a Sec 1 or 2 student in ACS swimming team

” I remember when I was a student, my school, Anglo-Chinese School and a few others like RI and Chinese High, were always fighting it out annually to be the top school in athletics. ACS was, of course, the undisputed swimming champion for many years. Dr Tan Cheng Bock told me recently that ACS always beat RI in swimming was because the RI had swimmers like Mr Goh Chok Tong! Sir, I would like to add that the reason ACS was strong in swimming was because they had swimmers like Mr Chiam See Tong. Luckily, this is probably the only thing that Mr Chiam can ever beat the PAP in. But such was the spirit of competition in those days, both with competitors and the spectators.” – Tan Soo Khoon (Parliamentary Motion, Sports Development in Singapore, 23 May 2002

Mr Chiam asks Government to spend money on sportsmen and not on unnecessary infrastructure development

“The Government has announced that it would promote sports. But when I look at the budget allocations I only find that most of the money were given for capital development. $12.37 million to the Singapore Sports Council to take over canteens, cafeterias of sports complexes from the HDB. Then there was an increase of $2.37 million or 4.8% in grant mainly due to a large grant given to the Singapore Sports Council to meet additional recurrent expenditure on maintenance of new sports facilities. Then a sum of $2.05 million was provided as a loan to the SSC to carry out major repairs to the National Stadium. There was no mention of allocation of funds to sportsmen and their coaches. Sir, I think the Minister should look more into this area because our sportsmen are really not given enough financial support. If we want to shine in the international level, our sportsmen must be given real support.

Sad to say, our sports level as far as the international standard is concerned, is at the kampong level. I think we have to do something to build up one or two champions and that will give inspiration to other sportsmen. I think sports is, in fact, part of culture. I think it should not be downgraded. The public schools in England stressed on sports. It was said that the Battle of Waterloo was won at the playing fields of Eton. That has much to say for sports.

Sports has many benefits. It is not just for the materialist aspect of getting good health. Sports builds up courage, character of a person, disciplines him, teaches him fair play, his ability to take defeat and get him into the right spirit of cooperation with others. And as regards the social level, sports is a very good means of getting social cohesion because if people are really interested in sports, whether he is a company director or he is a labourer, they will get together for a common pursuit.

Above all, our schools should encourage our children to enjoy sports. I think that is the key, not to tell them, “If you take up sports you will be healthy.” I do not think we should approach in that aspect. Teach him to enjoy, teach him to acquire a skill for life and the health aspect of it will come with it.

In Singapore today, I think our emphasis just on academic excellence is really lop-sided. There should be a balance up with some sporting activities so that our children can really grow up to be developed all round.” – Mr Chiam See Tong, Budget 1989, 22 March 1989 


Mr Chiam asks Government to release control of sports to sportsmen for sports to thrive in Singapore

“The Government agreed to help put Singapore national soccer team in the World Cup Finals in 2010 but later the project was not carried through.  It fizzled out.  All Singapore soccer fans were, of course, disappointed.

Singapore is a first world country but, by international standing, Singapore’s sports standard is still very low.  We have yet to win an Olympic gold medal.  New Zealand, which has about the same population as Singapore, has already won many Olympic gold medals and her athletes have even broken world records.

Why is Singapore’s international sporting standard so low?  I believe it is due to too much Government control in sports here.  The Government should free sports.  Let the sportsmen have a say and allow them to organise sports themselves.  As Winston Churchill told the Americans in World War II, “Give me the weapons and we will finish the job.”  Will our Government allow our sportsmen to finish the job and put Singaporeans on the world sporting map?” – Mr Chiam See Tong, Budget 2006, 9 March 2006


Mr Chiam was a champion of grooming local sporting talent

“Just now the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned that Singapore won 42 medals at Doha and eight were gold medals.  Can he please tell us how many of these were won by foreign talents?” – Parliamentary Question, Olympic Games 2008, 23 Jan 2007