Thank you for the invitation to my wife and I to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games this evening. We know you will, in what we have come to expect of you, have done a fantastic job as Creative Director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. We share your excitement at showcasing Singapore to a big worldwide television audience but I will have to demur and not be present there, although believe me, you, I would have loved to be, especially when we, as such a small country, had out-competed Russia for the honour of hosting this event.
However, there just exists too many aspects of these Games, that make me reluctant to partake in it, because I stand opposed to many of these outright infringements of what is expected of a nationally funded and organised event which should aim to, at the end of the day, benefit its citizens.
I cannot condone the practice of compelling our motorists to give way to YOG buses as they ferry participants from point to point at the risk of incurring a one hundred and thirty dollar fine should they be found guilty of not doing so – what if they were trying to avoid an accident or causing harm to other motorists?
I do not endorse the feeding of our volunteers with food several notches below that which is served to our foreign visitor friends – why couldn’t these two groups have been given the opportunity to meet, interact and exchange views and goodwill over a shared meal and menu?
I cannot fathom the cavalier behaviour of our Ministry of Community, Youth & Sports when they allowed the Games’ budget to triple in actuality, accompanied by an attendant drop in the budget allocated to ComCare – an item that also fell under its purview – why was there no compunction to explain to the public the reason behind both the increase of one and the decrease of the other?
And I question the wisdom of organizing an event such as this without even a straw poll as to how it would be received by our Youth – I did see the Olympic Flame gambol by amidst applause from senior citizens in colour co-ordinated T-shirts and very young (maybe six or seven year old) children waving balloons and flags – but where were our Youth?
I enjoyed watching, also at your invitation, the National Day Parade and Show last year, for which you were also Creative Director. This time round, you would have noticed that I had refrained from calling you on the telephone upon my return to Singapore last week. I would have preferred to have given YOG a miss without any rancour, fanfare or comment.
Sixteen years ago when you were the Best-Man at our wedding, I knew that our University days were only the beginning of a great friendship. My decision to seek to represent those who are not consulted nor heard nor heeded nor protected nor represented compels me to relegate my affection and regard for you to a place superseded by the very real concerns of those for whom the Youth Olympic Games is but another example of how our country has gone ahead without them, their views, their aspirations and their concerns. Today, I count on that friendship and seek your understanding as to why I have to, for the first time, decline an opportunity to witness and support your work.
In turn, I promise you that if given a chance, a new generation of Singaporeans will do much better by their fellow citizens and ensure that a refusal such as this will not be necessary in the event of an invitation such as yours – in that Singapore of the future, no one shall need to feel as if he or she has been excluded from that which ought to have been the pride of every Singaporean.