Singapore Government Press Release
Media Relations Division, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
MITA Building, 140 Hill Street, 2nd Storey, Singapore 179369
SPEECH BY DR YAACOB IBRAHIM, ACTING MINISTER FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND SPORTS, AT THE LAUNCH OF THE CODE OF GOVERNANCE FOR NATIONAL SPORTS ASSOCIATIONS, SATURDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2003, 10.05AM, HELD AT SUNTEC BALLROOM 3, LEVEL 2
Mr Alex Chan
Chairman, Singapore Sports Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Sporting Singapore blueprint is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because it is a bold attempt to chart the future direction for sport in Singapore and it was a direction set by the entire sporting fraternity, including representatives from government agencies, National Sports Associations (NSAs) athletes, media, schools, private sports clubs, and parents. Frankly I am glad to be associated with such an exciting journey.
But the blueprint is also challenging as it would take a tremendous amount of effort and most importantly, a change in the orientation by all parties involved to put us on track to the Sporting Singapore vision. However, having been involved with this vision directly for about a year now, I can confidently say we can achieve our vision. With the right conditions and the alignment of the interests of all the key stakeholders towards what is good for sporting Singapore, the vision will become a reality.
We must expect differences to emerge while we implement this vision. As long as the debate is healthy and constructive, and that everyone in the sporting fraternity agrees with the vision, I think we are on the right track. We all know that the journey ahead will be long and even hard for many of us. There will no doubt be obstacles along the way. The changes may be unsettling and at times controversial. But with the right spirit and commitment towards our common cause of building a sporting Singapore, the journey will be worth it. We must be prepared to do the right things.
My Ministry and the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) have, over the last 2 years, been working very hard with the sporting fraternity, in particular the NSAs, to implement the various recommendations in the Sporting Singapore blueprint.
The National Sports Associations are one of the key pillars in our vision of a sporting Singapore. The effectiveness of our NSAs will continue to be a key area of focus in our work. Last year we reviewed the status of our NSAs and made some changes to the status of a few NSAs. We also made transparent the criteria that we used to assess them. For a few NSAs, we brought in experts to conduct strategic reviews of their programmes, and increased the amount of direct funding to some.
Code of Governance for NSAs
Today, we mark another milestone in NSA development. The Code of Governance for NSAs is a concise document that aims to help increase the capability and professionalism of the NSAs. There are altogether 10 key principles of governance which we would want NSAs to adhere to.
Such Codes of Governance are not unique to sport and sporting associations. The National Council of Social Services also plans to roll out a Code of Governance for Voluntary Welfare Organisations in due course. Good governance is thus a priority for all publicly accountable organisations.
In developing the Code of Governance for NSAs, the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) has engaged the NSA, both full-time and volunteer officials, in discussions over the last few months. I understand that some of the feedback have been accepted and incorporated in the final Code that is being launched today. I want to thank all of you who have given your views and helped make the Code a more relevant one for yourselves.
It must be our common goal to expect all NSAs to agree with every provision in the finalised Code of Governance, despite the diversity of our NSAs. The differences that we may have over the Code do not mean that we disagree with the underlying fundamental principles of your views. Our differences may be purely because of administrative and practical considerations. After all, we want a Code that is implementable and that will help us achieve our objective of strengthening our NSAs. In this regard, I ask all of you who may have some reservations with the final Code to take it in the right spirit, look at the big picture and join us in this effort to strengthen the governance of NSAs in Singapore.
Amongst other things, the Code of Governance will address a few key critical areas. First, it will address the issue of leadership renewal and fair representation of stakeholders in the leadership of NSAs. This is probably the most important aspect of the Code. An effective leadership is one that can react to changing circumstances at all times. It will bring about the necessary changes in the association, in the member clubs, and in the sport development programmes so as to bring the sport to a higher level.
Second, the Code will address the concern of accountability for public funds. Since the launch of the Sporting Singapore report, funding support has increased for NSAs. But increased funding support must be accompanied by increased accountability. It is SSC�s responsibility to ensure that there be a clear and transparent framework to better manage public funds that it disburses to the NSAs.
Third, the Code will put in place a system to ensure that the selection of athletes for major competitions is fair and transparent. Our athletes are a key group of stakeholders in the Sporting Singapore blueprint. Hence, the Code should also cater to this important group of people in Singapore.
We know that change is difficult, and complying with the Code may prove to be a challenge. To assist in the process, SSC will provide programmes and assistance to help NSAs adapt to the Code of Governance. These include legal consultancy support for constitutional changes, assistance for NSAs to change their internal systems and practices, and skills upgrading courses for officials and staff in the NSAs.
I foresee the year ahead to be a busy one with all these changes that must be made. But having met with some of the NSA leaders recently at a dialogue session, I am confident that our colleagues in the NSAs have the passion and right frame of mind to do what has to be done.
NSA development is but one area that we have been working on. Another key initiative that will become a critical building block for sports development in Singapore is the Sports Hub project.
The Sporting Singapore report recommended the re-building of our national stadium into a multi-purpose sports hub. Built in 1973, our current national stadium is 30 years old, and is inadequate for attracting and staging high-quality sports and entertainment events. Sports stadia of today are no longer built for sports events alone, but are designed for multi-purpose use. Increasingly, other countries are recognising the vibrancy, excitement and economic spin-offs that sports stadia and major events can bring to the urban and social environment.
The Sports Hub that replaces the National Stadium will be a new lifestyle centre with sport as a theme. It will be a place for Singaporeans of all ages, races, and gender to come together to watch and participate in sports related activities. It will have world-class sports facilities that cater to local and international sports and entertainment events. This will be a national landmark that captures our memories and aspirations for sport.
The building of the new Sports Hub will be a significant moment in our sports journey and the development of a local sports culture. In addition, the Sports Hub is also expected to generate economic benefits through construction activities, facilities operation, tourism and the hosting of major international events. World-class infrastructure, coupled with sound marketing strategies, will draw in more events � the success of which are key for the development of the sports industry in Singapore.
A 6-month long Sports Hub Feasibility Study has been completed. A key recommendation of the study is that the new Sports Hub should be located at Kallang because of its central location, easy accessibility and the potential integration with the surrounding development plans. As the site of our first National Stadium since independence, Kallang also evokes many fond sporting and non-sporting memories for Singaporeans. I am glad to announce that the Government has accepted this recommendation to locate the Sports hub at Kallang.
The study further recommended that the Sports Hub include a new world-class national stadium with a spectator capacity of between 45,000 to 55,000. The stadium should be supported with facilities such as corporate boxes, restaurants, media facilities, conference and exhibition facilities. A 6,000-seat indoor arena was also recommended. As a lifestyle hub for the people, the Sports Hub should have a leisure activities centre and a sports business cluster. These will consist of retail outlets, leisure facilities, sports business services and offices. The consultants estimate that the development cost of the entire Sport Hub will be approximately $650m. This is but only an estimate at this point.
The Government will study the recommendations further to determine the exact design and capacities of the new stadium as well as the mix of facilities for the entire Sports Hub. A more detailed master-planning of the Kallang area and design of the various facilities will have to be done before we can finalise the configuration of the Sports Hub. We expect the construction of the Sports Hub to start only in 2005 and the entire project to be completed by 2009.
I hope you share my excitement of what is happening to our local sports scene. I would like to encourage all of you to ride on this momentum as we start on this new year. By putting in place the necessary fundamentals, we are confident that local sports development will, in time, soar to greater heights.