Let me just come out and say this: Yes. I am proud it is a Singaporean rather than a Foreign Sports Talent who won our very first Olympic Gold medal.
To be brutally frank, I would not have felt the same if it was our table-tennis team. Yes, they may have the Singapore flag on their chests, but we all know they are just hired guns. There will be no glory for Singapore other than showing the world we have the money to buy sporting success.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not begrudging the foreign-born sportsmen/women. They were given the opportunity and they took it. I have no problem with that. But it should not be at the expense of our own talents.
I always maintain that no matter if we win or lose, we should spend the money to develop our own people. If not for anything else, it is about giving them a fair chance. I mean we can probably win all the medals and championships in the world if we can get people like Phelps, Bolt or Lin Dan to represent Singapore, but what is the point (and they probably prefer to represent their own country)?
I know someone will invariably give me the “our ancestors are also immigrants” argument, but it is just nonsense. Our forefathers came and made Singapore their home. They needed to work hard (for some very hard) building up this home. Can we say the same for those foreign-born talents who are brought (or “bought”) here on good wages to play sports full-time? And are we so naive to think they would hang around once their contracts are up?
And please… don’t conveniently put the xenophobic label on us just because we prefer to have Singaporeans representing Singapore. Loving our own people does not suddenly make us haters of foreigners. Everyone loves (or should love) their own country. What’s so xenophobic about that?
*Please take note of what I said and did not say. I did not say I don’t welcome foreigners. In fact, I have many friends here who are born in other countries. I like them and get along with them. I am more than happy if they decide to make Singapore their permanent home. Their kids can represent Singapore. :)*