Balakrishnan should try a little bit of humility

August 14, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr Jacques Rogge, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) that is underway in Singapore, zeroing in on the bloated budget and lack of public support. He said that he hoped the “spiraling” cost of organisng the YOG and the “subdued” enthusiasm among Singaporeans would be overcome for future Games.

But instead of acknowledging the reality of the situation, the PAP is busily telling Singaporeans that they are madly cheering on its woefully organised Games.Dr Vivian Balakrishnan told Dr Chee Soon Juan to see the “response” on the ground. Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Finance Minister, said that the YOG enthusiasm was “infectious”. Now PM Lee Hsien Loong says that the Games “has struck a chord with our people.” Comical Ali has come to town.

What is most upsetting is that instead of admitting that mistakes were made in organising the Games, the Government is insulting the intelligence of the people and angering them even more by arrogantly dismissing their criticisms.

First it went ahead with the YOG like it does with everything else – making decsions without consulting the people and then expecting everyone to support it when the time comes.

It haughtily chased students out of their dormitories to accommodate the visitors, reserved lanes for YOG buses on our already congested roads while continuing to charge motorists ERP, and then served quality food for the athletes while giving volunteers sub-standard fare.

All these have antagonised Singaporeans who are already less than enthusiastic about the event. The public has been sorely inconvenienced by an event that it – and the rest of the world – care little about.

Worse, they have been made to foot the bill to the tune of $400 million.

Because money doesn’t come from the pockets of the ministers and because there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop the Government from wasting such vast sums of public funds, it’s easy for the ministers to play fast and loose with our money.

As the minister for sports, Dr Balakrishnan must shoulder the major part of the blame. Instead of continuing his arrogant attitude, he should try a bit of humility and make the following statement:

 

On behalf of the YOG organising committee I would like to extend my apologies for the poor showing thus far. As minister in charge of the Games I take full responsibilty for the shortcomings. We will look into where things have gone wrong and how we can rectify them for future events.

In particular, we acknowledge that support for such events cannot come from orders and decrees but from the heart-felt support of you, the people.

We apologise to all those affected by the logistics and for the inconvenience caused especially to motorists, students, volunteers, and businesses.

For now we ask that all Singaporeans get behind the effort to make the Games a success while it is going on. After the event, we will hold public inquiries and public forums to find out all that had gone wrong. We want your views on how we can do better.

In future, we promise to stage such events with the people of Singapore instead of the Government high-handedly going it alone and expecting everyone to cheerily comply with our decisions.

But like the floods, the Mas Selamat escape, and the MRT depot breaking-in the PAP is accountable to no one. This must change.

Read: IOC hoping Youth Games can overcome cost