29 September 2010

Singapore's Olympic Medal Targets

According to media reports, the Singapore Sports Council is targeting two medals to be won by Singapore athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games and six medals at the 2016 Olympic Games.  Singapore has won only two silver medals in previous Olympics — in women's team table tennis in 2006 and in men's weightlifting in 1960.

The Sports Council did not say in which sport or sports the medals are targeted to be won.  From the perspective of the public at large, that is understandable.  A medal is a medal, whether it is won in swimming, table tennis or shooting, for example.

But what does this mean for the respective national sports associations ("NSA")?

What are their respective goals?  What are their respective key performance indicators to achieve the goals set for them?

Each NSA wants its athletes to win as many medals as possible in its sport.

But that is not enough.  Unless each NSA is assigned, or has set for itself, a targeted number of medals to be won, no NSA is accountable for its contribution to the total number of medals to be won.

In other words, a collective goal needs to be split into, or made up of, goals for each contributing NSA.  Otherwise, which NSA is accountable if the target is not met?

By way of example, when a company sets a profit target, each of its component divisions is assigned or has set for itself a profit target, against which its performance may be measured.

Even if that company manages to meet its profit target through the out-performance of some divisions which compensated for the under-performance of other divisions, the various divisions will be rewarded or recognised differently.

So should it be for the NSAs.

Hopefully, the Sports Council's target is not just a vision or a wish, with no one being held accountable if the target is not achieved provided everyone tried his or her best.

21 September 2010

No Dual Citizenship

The suggestion of dual citizenship, or dual nationality, has crept into the discussion on offering citizenship to permanent residents, and the broader discussion on citizenship versus permanent residency.

Foreigners who are permitted by their home countries to be citizens of a second country (i.e., without losing the citizenship of their home countries) will likely welcome the suggestion.

With dual citizenship, erstwhile foreigners will enjoy the few privileges that are available to citizens but not permanent residents.

They can buy new HDB flats or get government grants and HDB mortgage loans when buying HDB resale flats.

They will qualify for higher subsidies for medical care and education.  Their children will compete equally for placement in public schools.

They can vote in parliamentary and presidential elections.

Using them to make up for the baby shortfall is misplaced unless they consider themselves as Singaporeans only, not part Singaporeans and part citizen of another country.

If they are young enough to fulfil national service obligations, will they stay and defend Singapore in times of need, when they have an alternative home elsewhere?

Like permanent residents, they will stay here only as long as conditions here suit their objectives or preferences, and will likely relocate if conditions elsewhere are more favourable or more attractive.

There are few, if any, benefits for Singapore to grant dual citizenship to foreigners.

09 September 2010

National Service Recognition Award

The recently announced National Service Recognition Award (“NSRA”) gives the unfortunate impression that past contributions don't matter.

Most currently serving NSMen will not be receiving the full quantum of the NSRA because they have already served past one or two of the milestones.

Former NSMen are excluded.

It is ironic that at a time when we remember Dr Goh Keng Swee for his contributions to Singapore's defence, the generations of former NSMen whose combined efforts and sacrifices transformed his concept into reality and helped protect our fledgling nation when it was most vulnerable are excluded from the NSRA.

As the prime minister said, whilst much of the earlier hardware has been superseded by newer and more sophisticated equipment, we would not be flying F15s if we had not started off with flying Hunter aircraft.

The SAF would not be what it is today if not for the NSF and NSMen of yesteryear.  They deserve no less recognition.


NSF are full-time national servicemen and NSMen are operationally ready national servicemen who have completed their full-time national service (also known as reservists in many other countries).