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Eight more outstanding individuals join the Singapore Sport Hall Of Fame

Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community And Youth & Second Minister For Law at the Sport Hall Of Fame Awards Ceremony

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of Singapore,
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and Environment, and
President, Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC)
Ladies and gentlemen,

  1. Good evening, everyone.
  2. It is a real pleasure to be able to join you here this evening at the Sport Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony.
    1. Tonight is an important occasion as we celebrate the achievements of our distinguished inductees.
    2. Their accomplishments go beyond sporting prowess. Our new inductees are all exceptional leaders in their chosen sport, and inspiring mentors for many young athletes.
  3. Since 1985, the Singapore Sport Hall of Fame has honoured our top sportsmen and women, and in the process, inspired our young athletes to emulate the world-class performances of the many inductees. They have shown us that through hard work, determination, passion, dedication and sheer focus, you can achieve your dreams.
    1. To date, we have inducted 57 of our sportsmen and women into the Hall of Fame. All of them, you would agree, have provided us with unforgettable sporting memories, moments of peaks, highs and their achievements that bring us all closer together as fellow Singaporeans.
    2. As we induct these giants into the Singapore Sport Hall of Fame, we hope to honour their achievements and provide a broader platform for them to tell their stories and inspire future generations of Singaporeans.
    3. It is important for us that Singaporeans know who our inductees are, what you’ve accomplished for Singapore and what you stand for in our Sporting Hall of Fame.
    Refreshes to the Sport HOF Award
  4. Last year, we announced two key changes to the Sport Hall of Fame Awards.
    1. Firstly, the revised athlete category now recognises those who demonstrated sustained contributions back to the sport or community, after retiring from active competition. In this way, we recognise the longevity of an athlete's contribution, even after their competitive days.
    2. Secondly, we introduced a new category for sport leaders.
      1. They include administrators, coaches, technical specialists and the list goes on. These are sometimes underappreciated roles, but I think you will agree, so critical and instrumental for the progress and advancement of our sporting success. What you do off the pitch, off the field, off the track is sometimes critical for the very little bit of extra knowledge that we get on the field of play.
  5. So, these changes were made to strengthen and make more explicit the institutional role of the Singapore Sport Hall of Fame.
    1. And we want to do this as a strategy to identify role models in our sporting sector,
    2. But more importantly, to engender, in our TeamSG athletes, the spirit of giving back to the community and serving beyond your active competition days.
  6. From this year, we are also honoured to have the President of Singapore present the Sport Hall of Fame awards at the Istana, and I believe this is a very meaningful capstone of the career of each of our new inductees.
  7. The 8 inductees
  8. Tonight, we will witness the induction of eight outstanding individuals to the Sports Hall of Fame.
  9. Three of whom are former Team Singapore athletes who have not only achieved excellence in their sports, but have also made their own personal outstanding contributions back to the sporting fraternity and to the community. There is so much to say about each of them, but if I did that, we will be here till about tomorrow, so I thought to highlight some of their key significant achievements.
    1. Syed Kadir is a giant in Singapore’s boxing scene. He was the first and only boxer so far to represent Singapore at the Olympic Games. He has also gone on now to serve with distinction and became a national coach, and saw through many other generations of boxers who were inspired by his story and followed in his footsteps. Thank you very much sir;
    2. Joscelin Yeo, Singapore’s only four-time Olympian, also our most decorated gold- medal-winning athlete at the SEA Games. She has also served as a former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), serving the broader community, representing their views, speaking up, but most importantly being an inspiration to many young swimmers and athletes who followed in your path and in your footsteps. Thank you very much, Joscelin;
    3. The third athlete is none other than Yu Mengyu, who represented Singapore in two Olympic Games and won multiple medals at the SEA Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Following her retirement in 2022, Mengyu took up a role as Junior Development Squad Assistant Coach with the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) in the hopes of guiding and inspiring the next generation. That was what she said she wanted to do, to give back, to show people the power of the possible and to inspire a new generation of capable tennis players onto the scene. So, thank you very much Mengyu.
  10. We similarly wish to honour those who have been steadfast in their mission to promote sport in Singapore, as I have said, off the track, outside of the pool and off the field of play. Tonight, our five inductees are recognised as outstanding sport leaders for their immense contributions to Singapore sport over the years and let me say a few words about them.
    1. First, Kenneth Kee, a former Team Singapore water polo player who went on to be the National Team Head Coach. Known for his no nonsense leadership and very tough training, he is best remembered for his role in building up the Singapore water polo team that rose to become amongst the very best in Asia, putting Singapore right there on the map. Thank you very much, Kenneth.
    2. Ng Ser Miang, is no stranger to the sports scene in Singapore. He first represented Singapore as a former athlete before leading the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) as well as the then Singapore Sports Council. He now takes and represents Singapore on the international stage, as Vice President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Ser Miang is also still an athlete at heart. Each time I talk to him and see him at Major Games, he keeps asking what is happening to the athletes, and is still very much an athlete at heart. Thank you very much Ser Miang.
    3. Next we have Jessie Phua, not only the first Singaporean to head an International Sport Federation, but also the first woman to head the International Bowling Federation. She led the International Bowling Federation as its President from 2007 to 2011. She also served as the President of the Singapore Bowling Federation for almost 20 years. She has served in the SNOC as Vice-President since 2020 and like Joscelin, was also a former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP). Her reach and influence go well beyond bowling.
    4. Finally, Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, she has been a key driving force in the disability sport scene for well over 35 years of experience. She brings to bear her leadership, and personable personality. She is kind, considerate, conscientious to the last detail, making sure that every last para-athlete identifies and associates with their personal journey. She has been leading the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC), Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) and the Special Olympic Singapore (SOSG) for many years. She is an institution in this field, and her expertise is unparalleled. We will continue to tap on this as we update our Disability Sport Master Plan, which we intend to make a big push on for the future of Singapore's disabilities sport landscape.
    5. Lastly, but certainly not least, the late Dr Tan Eng Liang. He was a true champion of sports in Singapore for many years. He may not be here with us today, but his achievements and his legacy will remain as an integral part of our sporting history for many decades to come.
      1. He was a decorated water polo player. The Chairman of the Singapore Sports Council, the Vice-President of SNOC and also served, for a period of time, as a Senior Minister of State.
      2. Days before his passing, last year, Dr Tan asked his family to share a message with the sporting fraternity. When I read it, it really struck a chord with me, and I thought to share one portion with you today.
      3. He said, and I quote, “I am at the last stage of my sporting journey. It has been a great experience serving in sports all these years. I have enjoyed my time tremendously.
      4. There are too many people in the local and international sporting community to thank. Please convey my gratitude to all whom I have worked with.
      5. It has been my privilege and honour to serve them throughout these years. I wish them the very best and continued success locally and internationally. Majulah Sports Singapore!”
  11. These beautiful, meaningful words from a man who has served Singapore as a loyal, filial and faithful son for so many years. Thank you very much Dr Tan, and I want to thank Dr Tan’s family as well for allowing Dr Tan to serve his community for so many years. Even as he was going to be passing on, he left his words for us. And I think it is a constant reminder for us, as we take Singapore sport forward, that these are the words and the shoulders of giants we should build our sporting Singapore on.
  12. When I first met him as Sport Minister, this was sometime just before March 2021, he was about to make a donation to water polo and we matched it with the One Team Singapore Fund (OTSF). I remember he said to me that in order for us to do well in sport, we have to honour the sporting heroes of our past. This is because if we honour the supporting heroes of the past, these heroes would be the foundation from which we build future success. One of the many ways what we have done today, that he inspired me to do, was to have leaders inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame.
  13. So, thank you very much Dr. Tan, for sharing those little bits of information and nuggets with me. I hope that you will be able to find rest. But I also hope that this will serve as a great inspiration for future generations of sportsmen and sportswomen alike, as well as leaders, administrators, and everyone else who is involved in sport.
  14. Conclusion
  15. On that note, I want to wish all of you a very pleasant evening. This is a very important milestone, and I'm very glad to be able to share this occasion with all of you. And I hope that we will continue to learn and be inspired by them, treasure them as sporting heroes for Singapore, and look upon them as inspiration for many more generations to come, as the best sporting years of Singapore lie ahead of us.
  16. Thank you very much.
Last updated on 15 February 2024