Ellen is Lee's choice for top STTA post

Ellen is Lee's choice for top STTA post
Ellen Lee (left) and Alex Yam (right) have been endorsed by outgoing Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Lee Bee Wah (centre) as the ones to take over the most successful national sports association (NSA) in the country.

They have been endorsed by outgoing Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Lee Bee Wah as the ones to take over the most successful national sports association (NSA) in the country.

Following medal success at the last two Olympic Games and a stunning triumph at the World Championships, along with dominant performances at the Commonwealth Games and South-east Asia (SEA) Games, Ellen Lee and Alex Yam will have big shoes to fill if they are elected the new STTA president and deputy president, respectively, on Sept 6.

At a lively lunch event at Old Parliament House yesterday, Ellen and Yam were introduced to the media by Lee as her candidates for the two positions.

The two will be responsible for developing more homegrown talent and keeping the NSA in good financial health.

Perhaps in an attempt to play down expectations, Ellen, a lawyer with Ramdas & Wong, admitted that she did not play table tennis and also was not used to fundraising.

But the Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC did declare her intention to carry on and enhance the good work done by her predecessor over the past six years in terms of the table tennis development pipeline, programmes and policies.

"I don't think there will be lots of changes," said Ellen, 57.

"(The players and staff) are already following a scheme of things to make sure we turn out the results that we hope to have, so I will be working very closely with the staff over the plans that have already been laid out.

"I'm not the sort to go out and force my way to get things done. I would be more of the consultative type.

DUTY

"This is not my association. It belongs to everybody, it belongs to Singapore. We have a duty to make sure that we spot the best, groom the best and make them the best so that we can bring glory to Singapore.

"(If I'm elected STTA president), I should be working in consultation, in conjunction, and in collaboration with the people who are important to help us achieve the goals for Singapore."

Lee had announced recently that she would step down from her post this year, and it is understood that of the two current STTA deputy presidents, only Jack Soh will seek another term, while Low Yen Ling will step down.

Ellen, a mother of four and grandmother of 10, gave her take on the foreign talent issue that has helped the STTA mine both medals and some controversy.

Ellen said: "... if we focus on what we are doing, we shouldn't be divided by the fact that our talent pool is mainly foreign-born because there is also the local talent.

"For anyone to do well in any sport or in any other matter, competition is really necessary.

"We shouldn't doubt our foreign-born talent because they have brought glory to Singapore and motivated many Singaporeans to rise to the occasion.

"It's controversial but, I think deep down in their hearts, people know we need at least 20 years or more to groom somebody into a (world-class table tennis) talent.

"If we have a pool of foreigners who are already groomed to almost that level, who are prepared to put in their best to play for Singapore, and along the way motivate Singaporeans to do their best, I think we should encourage that."

Lee said the fact Ellen and Yam had already been helping out behind the scenes at the STTA from earlier this year and displayed a willingness and enthusiasm towards helping the sport grow in Singapore.

Lee has raised a whopping $10 million during her six-year tenure and Yam, a 33-year-old MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC, will try to keep the wheels in motion.

Nominations will only be held and revealed at the STTA's biennial general meeting on Sept 6.

Yam said: "There are a lot of people passionate about it and want to play their part as well. Anybody who is willing to step forward and make a difference will be welcomed to the sports fraternity.''

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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