By Jose Raymond
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA)’s decision to suspend Home United Youth Football Academy‘s use of two of its pitches at the Mattar Road premises because of complaints by a few residents is a slap in the face for the development of sports culture in Singapore.
It is unclear how many residents were unhappy but based on multiple news reports, it was but a handful of about four or five residents. But as a result of this minority, more than 1000 children will suffer as a consequence of the action by the SLA. This is preposterous.
When the academy was launched by then Senior Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli and former Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin in 2014, Mr Masagos said: “You will witness a genuine legacy.”
As the area is indeed demarcated for sports usage, why has SLA and the MP for the area Tin Pei Ling allowed the erroneous decision to be made to partially suspend the use of the facilities, with more than 1000 children and their parents now having to suffer as a consequence? Shouldn’t the right thing to do be to manage the noise of the four or five residents compared to the usage of the facility by 1000 kids who are enjoying sports?
What does this speak about policy and decision making by the authorities? Did SLA act just because of the appeal by the MP? Tin Pei Ling is coincidentally also the advisor of an S.League club and should understand the value of football and its role in building a sporting culture in Singapore. The silence from the government agencies in charge of sports is deafening. Perhaps Masagos was right. This decision by the SLA will be a “genuine legacy” for all of us to remember.
Perhaps it is timely to remind the various parties of the following lines spoken in February 1977:
“If you want to be popular, do not try to be popular all the time. Popular government does not mean that you do popular things all the time.” – Lee Kuan Yew
This was first published on Jose Raymond’s Facebook page and republished with permission
In June last year, The New Paper reported that a resident living nearby launched a petition against HYFA, although it generated signatures from just five families. In an interview at the time, the 55-year-old resident going by the name of Alan Hoong said: “The field is so close to the building that even when they talk at a normal volume, I can hear what they are saying. It’s like living inside a football stadium. Given a choice, I want them out of there.”
When TODAY spoke to 10 families from the affected blocks on Friday (Jan 13), seven had no objections to HYFA operating on weekends or beyond 7pm on weekdays. – Today’s report on 13 Jan