Monday, January 14, 2013

Li Jiawei's retirement

Table tennis star Li Jiawei brought the curtains down to her competitive career last week when she announced her retirement from international table tennis. Along with the announcement, she also confirmed reports that she will be returning to China where her husband, Mr Li Chao, and their three-year-old son Terry are living.

Since the announcement, some Singaporeans have been complaining about Li’s decision not to stay in Singapore and claim that she is just another mercenary who came to Singapore for the money. My reactions to all these whining is, “yes, so what?”

Li has represented Singapore since 1996. She flew Singapore colors at four Olympic Games and won a silver and bronze medal in the women's team event at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games. Outside the two Olympic medals, she also won 14 South-east Asia Games and seven Commonwealth Games gold medals. She has been without question one of the more successful sporting foreign talent we had imported into Singapore.

But seriously does anyone truly believe she would stay in Singapore after retirement?

Even though she received citizenship in 1999, she like most foreign talents in Singapore was always going to return to her home country once her “work” here is done. It is expected and I for one do not understand why there are any Singaporeans who can criticize Li for doing something so obvious. Sure there are some like Alexandra Duric who fully intend to stay in Singapore after retirement but they are the exceptions, not the rule. The vast majority of the foreign talents in Singapore fully intend to return to their countries. Li is just one of them and this is something Singaporeans already know and realized long ago. So why all this complaining? This is one thing I don’t understand about Singaporeans. Why in the world do we complain about things we already expect?

Li came to Singapore in 1996 after being talent-scouted in China and received citizenship in 1999 for the sole purpose of representing Singapore internationally. She has done that, even once reaching No.3 in the world ranking. Take comfort and joy in an athlete that has served Singapore with distinction for 17 years. Staying in Singapore long-term? Don’t ask for something that wasn’t ever going to happen. 


Anonymous said...

We didn't ask for it (ie. that she stays here long term). In fact, right from the start, with this "foreign sports talent" thing, many people already realistic enough to know that these "instant citizens" are here just for the money and will go back when their shelf life is over.
That this cheapens the value of what it means for a Singaporean to win a medal.

Its our leaders who told us otherwise. We're told to welcome them, that they will integrate. That they are now Singaporeans. That is all right.

So the hoo-hah that follows here is not aimed at LJW - its aimed at our highly paid, smart ministers. Its basically, "see I told you".

Of course, our ministers may not care either. After all, medals won, mission accomplished. KPI achieved, bonus obtained.

Anonymous said...

Would it be comforting to you if your tax dollars had supported these foreign fair weather sports talent than your children's development? It is akin to inviting someone to your house to rob you and having to thank them after that. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

This is the government, I am the government.

Anonymous said...

If I were Jiawei, I will also return to my home country. Why not? China is such a huge and powerful country. It is natural for people to choose the best amongst all available options. And don't forget it's our government who went all out to bring her in. She has done her part, it's a fair game.

Ghost said...

I fail to see why Singaporeans call then "fair-weathered" talents. Foreign talents like Li Jiawei are here to do a job. Whether it is in construction, business or sports, they are here for the job. They did the job and now they are going home. What's wrong with that? If the foreign talent decide to stay long-term, that's great but if not, there's nothing to complain about.