Dear Dr Balakrishnan,
In a recent response to a blogpost, you said:
“I wish the cynics would just focus their negative energy on me, and let the athletes and volunteers have the time of their lives”.
The unfortunate implication of your statement is that the negativity surrounding the YOG so far has been directed at volunteers and athletes.
Let’s be clear: not a single article we’ve read online so far that has been critical of the YOG has dishonored the work of genuine volunteers or even those who have been “volunteered”. Neither has it been directed against our athletes, of whom every Singaporean hopes will do us proud.
In fact, all criticism has been directed at the shoddy work of the main organizing committee, which seem to think it can treat the youths of Singapore like conscripts and organize a world-class event with minimal preparation. This is what Singaporeans are outraged about.
Even people scathingly critical of the YOG’s organization have said that they feel embarrassed for the stage performers and other entertainers lining Marina Bay, singing to rows of empty chairs.
The root of this problem is your lack of consultation before deciding to bid for the games, and your callous approach to cost overruns only further adds salt to the wound.
But now that the games have begun, ordinary Singaporeans don’t want the YOG to fail. No Singaporean can be happy that so far we haven’t put our best foot forward for the rest of the world.
But if you are really interested in the welfare of volunteers and athletes, you need to take some responsibility and address the criticisms that have been leveled at the way yourself and the YOG committee have organized the games.
It is not too late to make the games a genuine success: Singaporeans are fair minded and will surely give credit where it is due if you own up to your faults. A little bit of humility might go a long way in making Singaporeans want to be a part of the YOG.
Otherwise, it will be perverse for you to not accept any fault or directly address criticisms from student volunteers and ordinary citizens, while at the same time claiming: “The real stars and primary motivation for the YOG are…our own volunteers”.
The Online Citizen will be happy to publish your reply in full.
Choo Zheng Xi
The above open letter has also been sent to the minister via email.