ESM Goh: Sports has way of uniting people
He lends support to Chiam See Tong Sports Fund event for needy athletes
Political differences were put aside in the name of sports at the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund gala dinner last night, held at the Marriott Tang Plaza.
At the dinner, guest of honour, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, spoke on the power of sports and his support for the fund.
But this was not before talking about his respect for former six-term MP Chiam See Tong, despite their political views.
Mr Chiam served as opposition MP for 27 years, having represented Potong Pasir from 1984 to 2011.
At the start of the speech, Mr Goh said: "Some of you may be surprised why I'm here, because Chiam and I were once on opposite sides."
He admitted the invitation to attend the dinner came as a surprise, but he accepted it without hesitation as it was for a good cause.
In his speech, Mr Goh highlighted moments like the Malaysia Cup heyday in the 1970s, and more recently, when swimmer Joseph Schooling won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He said: "Like all of you here, I have always believed in the power of sports and what it can do for a young nation like Singapore. Sports has a way of uniting people."
The gala dinner was held to raise funds to help under-resourced athletes by providing support for their training, coaching and even nutrition.
It raised at least $170,000, including funds from an auction of sports memorabilia that was conducted by Helping Hands Group at the dinner.
The auction included a signed golf club donated by Mr Goh himself, which sold for $5,000.
The fund, which launched in March 2017, has since assisted more than 30 athletes.
Mr Ang Peng Siong, 56, chairman of the fund's board of management, said Mr Goh's attendance is a perfect example of how sports brings people together.
Mr Ang, once the world's fastest swimmer in the 50m freestyle, told The New Paper: "Both of them were sportsmen. They both know the importance of sports and its ability to unify people despite differences. Sports is a nation-building tool."
Former national swimmer Dr May Ooi, a director on the fund's board of management, said its role is to bridge the gap between disadvantaged athletes and their potential sporting success.
The dinner was also attended by Senior Minister of State for Health and Law Edwin Tong, Paralympian swimmer and Nominated MP Yip Pin Xiu and former national athletes.