Does the state of football in Singapore mirror the state of leadership?

Mah Bow Tan, former PAP Minister and President of the Football Association of Singapore, once set a target for the Singapore football team to reach the World Cup finals by 2010 just as how Goh Chok Tong targeted a Swiss standard of living for Singapore by 1999.

But both were ill-fated and ill-conceived targets that never came close to fruition.

Every four years, when the World Cup comes around, we are reminded of “Goal 2010” – the target set by Mah in 1998. “It will be the first step in a journey of a thousand miles towards Goal 2010,” he proudly declared.

We not only have not had a sniff of making it to the World Cup finals, but our national football team slumped to a humiliating lowest-ever FIFA world ranking of 173 last year. Currently, the ranking is a dismal 169.

Size is not an excuse. This year, Iceland – a country with a population of about 300,000 (similar to Bedok) – qualified for the World Cup finals.

There has been absolutely no talk of a revised Goal 2010 – our politicians and football head honchos have seemingly given up for good that glorious promise of “a journey of a thousand miles.”

As for achieving the Swiss standard of living, promised by Goh Chok Tong in 1984 when he was Prime Minister, he seemed to be the only one who felt the target was met. In 2009, he proudly announced that “our achievements surpassed our expectations,” claiming that the target had long been met.

Singaporeans could say that Goh got it totally wrong – what Singapore managed to achieve was the Swiss cost of living!

For Goal 2010, Singapore changed immigration criteria to bring in top football talents who were given citizenship. But these foreign talents did nothing to bring about football glory – instead, they got paid handsomely and when their playing careers were over, they renounced citizenship and returned to their homeland. Some even got nabbed for match-fixing.

So much for banking on foreign talents to bring Singapore glory!

Which just goes to show that dispensing the cash does not guarantee success.

Isn’t there a parallel of sorts with the state of the current leadership?

Ministerial and Civil Service salaries have been benchmarked against the top private sector earners since 1994. For a quarter century now, our politicians and top civil servants have been the world’s highest paid by a long, long mile.

Does that make our leadership the top ranked in the world?

Let’s just say that our football team is now ranked 169 in the world.

If there is a ranking for leadership, where would ours come in?


Augustine Low

* The author is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.



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19 Responses to “Does the state of football in Singapore mirror the state of leadership?”

  • Life in a hard place:

    I guess both Mah and Goh were sounding off the top of their muddled heads about matters that weren’t close to their hearts.

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  • Bapak:

    These are their achievements:-
    Highest cost of living,
    Highest pay to themselves,
    Highest water tax rate rise,
    Highest amount given to PA,
    Highest ego,
    Highest arrogance,
    Highest number of TKSS-MPs in Parliament,
    Highest payout to FAS Officials sitting in the office doing nothing,
    Lowest spending to nurture footballers,
    Lowest pay to the worker,
    Lowest carpark charge for MPs,
    Lowest morale for citizens,…and the list continue.

    Therefore, we will join the World Cup in 4010, when the world is left with only two countries – SG & NK. We will go into Final Match straight away. 70% very proud of them.

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  • Bapak:

    There are many things to learn while watching the FIFA 2018 World Cup. When Brazil & Belgium met, during Brazil National Anthem the stadium was playing the shorter version. But Brazilians (players and all their supporters in the stadium) continue singing without music background for more that one whole minute just to complete the full version national anthem unisonly. Loyalty cannot be built or bought with money.

    It has to be with strong passion, moral support, and recognition by the government of the day to achieve such loyalty.

    Did we see such support from our PAP G? No. What they did was highest pay to themselves, left crumbs to the players. You expect them our players to perform? Out of touch, isn’t it. Or simply, they just don’t know what they are taking about.

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  • why suffered in silence:

    The paralleism you draw between football and our state of leadership is very apt. Highest paid ministers in the world but worst than 3rd world leadership.Even our women table tennis ranking stuffed with foreign talents is getting from bad to worse. From winning the women table tennis world championship in 2010 to becoming a whipping boy where weaker teams could easily beat them.Our gahmen leadership is in a sorry state of affairs just like some of our sports.Their ownself praises ownself culture would continue to perpetuate as long as they are still in power. Our fate is in our own hand and Singaporeans alone could determine what our future going to be. The father of our nation had won world wide praises for his statesmanship and leadership but not our Pinky.What does that imply? Isnt it high time for drastic changes?

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  • Mammon:

    “But these foreign talents did nothing to bring about football glory – instead, they got paid handsomely and when their playing careers were over, they renounced citizenship and returned to their homeland. Some even got nabbed for match-fixing.“

    You can’t even integrate locals with locals(seriously, that’s how divided, socially inapt and uncaring we have become) so forget about integrating foreigners with locals.

    The root of all evil is the love orobsession of Sin’s leadership which permeates the entire society.

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  • Python 5:

    1993 – 75th ranking.

    2018 -169th ranking.

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  • clown pap and S$m utter fail:

    some 15 years ago, we were very upbeat about Singapore, proud of our citizenship and willingly NSF and NSR no problem.

    slowly, we discovered something was wrong. then we realized of the something that was wrong, the major was the large increase in number of mouths in small island causing much squeezing in almost everything that affects quality of life, especially crowding.

    we were not alone. 70% sheep revolted GE2011, causing clown and his S$m gang to start more lies, such as national CONversation.

    it seems to have worked, not least helped by emotional gratitude to departed pap evil lky so much so 70% sheep became 70% sheep GE2015.

    today 2018, things have become much worse than pre GE2011. since all signs are indicating GE2019, clown and his S$m gang thinking being anniversary year of founding by ang mo might do the trick, Dr Mahatir PH victory kind of shook the clown pap Ljs and clown pap Cbs somewhat, so much so national CONversation has restarted, and clown pap Ljs, so far seems only the Ljs and not the Cbs, are talking humility to 70% sheep.

    will it work this time GE2019?

    noting football died under pap hands. badminton died under pap hands. table tennis died under pap hands. maybe better for WP or SDP or any other OPPOSITION party to take over and revive them, including taking over parleement and reviving it to parliament.

    maybe then Singapore has hope ONCE again.

    can it be done? for sure YES. because Dr Mahatir PH has shown everyone, including pap PA paid IBs, that it can be done.

    are clown and his Lj and his Cb cronies afraid. sure since they can see how najib is today being brought to task for abuse of power by having compliant folks in ag in cpib in bank negara in police. since clown and his S$m gang are much worse, they are much more afraid, for sure.

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  • Gan Loong Ching:

    Not just football. With PAP members occupying the top post in most of our sports associations, we know why we fail to achieve desirable results in other sports too.

    The PAPies brought in the PAP mentality of “FT best” into sports and has ‘killed’ many of our sport talents. Joseph Schooling has shown us he’s one lucky boy who is fortunate not to be buried bcos of his supportive parents who went all out to help him.

    This gahmen has done so much harm to local talents, be it in sports, arts, music or our PMETs or entrepreneurs, they’re slowly but surely destroying our country. It’s stupid to think they can rely on FTs. Money will only buy mercenaries not loyalty.

    Don’t ask how our politicians would fare in any ranking bcos they can always use money to buy anyone and anything. But if someone don’t know how the greediest people with the lowest competencies and integrity look like, tell him to look at those people in our gahmen. The truth is seeing with your own eyes.

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  • liddat one lah:

    Value for $$$$ – sinkieland leadership come in second last.

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  • Brain Washing Activity Started:

    All beware, recently there are barrage of people posing as from government [wearing Red CHAS T-Shirt] and from Accentics? trying to interview your old parents at home, finding out how they feel about Singapore and getting them involve in nearby community, I think at the pretext of health care. Probably brain-washing them. Please de-wash them when you are back home or visit your parents soon.

    Tell them GST will be increasing soon despite cancellation of HSR project.

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  • Bapak:

    The results speak volume about the state of SG Football. Here are the AFF-U19 results:-

    vs Laos 5 – 0,
    vs Phils 2 – 1,
    vs Indonesia 4 – 0,
    vs Thailand 6 – 0,

    Four games, conceded 17, scored only 1.

    When we were a poor country, SG can beat all these countries easily.
    Now we are rich, what’s happened?
    Are we nurturing our footballers well?
    Are our footballers not being paid well, even talented players decided to give up?
    Is SG living in such a highly pressurised environment, no one is interested in developing sports?
    Where are all the TKSS big shots and what are they doing?

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  • "High" Ranking ???:

    > “Let’s just say that our football team is now ranked 169 in the world.”
    ST – Ranked 153rd . . .
    Papaya Leadership – Ranking ???
    Papaya Ministers Salaries – “High”est in the world
    Oh no, a pattern here??? “High” ranking.

    Unfortunately, Over-promised – Under-delivered !
    Papaya “marketing”. . .
    Remember the Ballot Box

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  • Equality Was Stealthily Remove:

    Great traversty of justice……

    ONE. Millions paid to ministers and top civil servants, all forced
    out of taxpayers. But with no performance to show, with no
    citizens getting their lives bettered by policies at all

    Two. COE. Caused all items of cost of living to go up, year after year.

    Three. GST. Confirmed contributing factor to the rising costs of
    living, year after year.

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  • opposition dude:

    “If there is a ranking for leadership, where would ours come in?”

    Right at the bottom of the barrel would be my guess.

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  • LIONS:

    This Rambo is no hero.
    He is the exact opposite,a villain.
    You would be surprised at his NET WORTH!
    A fatten former public SERVANT he was?!

    Thats why we must ensure TOP PUBLIC SERVANTS declare their net worth before n after their tenures.

    This is to uphold integrity n trust.

    If you only want to win votes by calling yourself a *son of PUNGGOL* or a son of a hawker during GE,then that is very hypocritical.
    Tell us clearly whats your trie net worth,it as simple as that.

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  • HarderTruths:

    In 1970s we had the best team because it belonged to $ingaporeans.

    It was not about winning but how proud we were of our men in football.

    Win or lose no matter. Now everything is must win or the team is useless. That is why this island is fucked. Only think about winning or losing as important.

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  • No money no talk:

    Sigh, our sense of time and distance hv changed, in tis most expensive over crowded city… Playing football is a waste of time and a risk to players’ survival in sgp

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  • OMG:

    The Singapore INTERNATIONAL Team that was made up of Chinese, Japanese, English, Serbian, Negros was the biggest laughing stock of Singapore soccer !

    Imagine a team that did not know which national anthem to sing ! Similar to our TT , badminton and other national teams ! Probably most of them could not even be able to pronounce Majulah Singapura properly.

    In the 70s and 80s, any Singaporeans were proud to talk about Singapore soccer even though we did not always win matches. Nowadays, everybody is so ashamed to talk about Singapore Football !! Thank-you so much to the “Foreign Talents” schemes which were initiated by “WHO ELSE” !

    Our Govt ranking if there is one, will be the REVERSE of better, betterer and betterest as cited by 1 ex-minister on NTUC !

    GD Star Rating
  • Marbok Tan:

    What was he drinking until he became Marbok Tan?

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