ITTF grand finals in S'pore

Arguing for a removal of the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) for Singaporeans, Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said on Tuesday that the additional taxes have led cash-rich Singaporeans to invest in riskier foreign properties in Malaysia, Cambodia, the US and UK.

Even as football, rugby, tennis and swimming announce ambitious plans to host world-class tournaments at the new Sports Hub, which should fully open in June, table tennis had been ominously quiet.

However, at yesterday's Keppel-Singapore Table Tennis Association Awards Night, STTA president Lee Bee Wah revealed that she also wants her sport to feature at the new state-of-the-art sporting arena.

"I would love to have the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals here in Singapore," she told The New Paper during last night's event at the Peach Garden Restaurant in Orchid Country Club.

"Due to limited resources, we will have to be prudent.

"I would be more than keen to bid for and bring in world-class events here if there are sponsors. We will also need funding from the Singapore Sports Council."

On Thursday, it was announced that major sports events such as the rugby World Club 10s in June, the Singapore Swim Stars featuring a host of world-class athletes in September, the Women's Tennis Association Championships in October and the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup will take place at the Sports Hub this year.

BENEFIT

Lee agrees that the local table tennis fraternity could similarly benefit if world-class paddlers congregate here to strut their stuff. She said: "By having a world-class tournament in Singapore, it will definitely attract attention from Singaporeans and budding players, too."

Lee also urged Singaporeans to back the local paddlers at next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, saying: "Don't miss the chance to catch our world-class players in action. I hope that the public will fill the stadium and support them as they do their best and go for gold."

At last night's awards, Keppel sponsored all the cash awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to reward paddlers who did well in a bumper 2013 that saw Gao Ning and Li Hu retain the World Tour Grand Finals men's doubles title.

Feng Tianwei won bronze at the Women's World Cup and combined with Yu Mengyu to pick up another bronze at the World Table Tennis Championships, before the Singapore table tennis contingent swept all four gold medals at the SEA Games.

Keppel also announced a partnership with STTA that builds on a separate sponsorship agreement which sees Keppel contributing $300,000 over three years towards the association's Clementi Zone Training Centre.

The centre offers professional coaching for Singaporeans aged between five and 11 with the aim of broadening the base of competitive players to be infused into the national youth squads.

davidlee@sph.com.sg

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