Feng Tianwei’s shock exit and the economy

Oct 26, 2016 08.34AM |

YOU can be the world’s No. 6, but if you can’t perform up to our standards – and have a smart mouth to boot, we don’t want you around.

Singapore’s top female table tennis player Feng Tianwei was axed from the national squad in a shock decision announced late yesterday (Oct 25) by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA).

The association said it would not be renewing her contract because she “does not fit into the STTA’s current plans for rejuvenation”. Her contract with STTA will end next Monday.

It gave no further details on its decision but the China-born national paddler who became a Singaporean in 2008 has been known to clash with her coaches and the association’s management. In October last year, she and a fellow teammate had demanded a change of coaches – an argument that eventually led to the firing of then-men’s team head coach, Yang Chuanning.

She also performed poorly in the recent Olympics, returning empty-handed despite doing well in other competitions, including the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Women’s World Cup two weeks ago.

Responding to the statement, Feng, 30, said she would continue to compete and would hold a press conference soon to discuss her dismissal.

The decision stunned many in the sporting fraternity, given that Feng is Singapore’s biggest star in the table tennis arena. She was part of the Singapore women’s table tennis team that finished second in the 2008 Olympics. Four years later, she collected two bronzes – for herself and her team – in London.

May Chen from The Straits Times said the move hinted at larger issues within the association: “What goes on within the walls of the STTA’s headquarters has always been something few are privy to, but the peculiarity of this episode suggests a bigger malaise is brewing.”

“The manner in which she was dismissed – like an executioner’s axe swiftly severing ties – left the sharpest impression.”

Meanwhile, other Singaporeans who were laid off are finding it harder to find new jobs.

Apart from the weak labour demand in general, this is also because of a mismatch in skills, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in its biannual Macroeconomic Review published yesterday.

The “re-entry” rate fell from 50.5 per cent six months ago to 45 per cent in June this year – the lowest since 2009.

The employment decline was the worst in manufacturing, which laid off 5,300 workers in the first half of the year. Industries that added jobs included the transport and storage and start-up sectors.

On a relatively brighter note, MAS predicted the economy would pick up slightly next year, after coming in at the lower end of 1 to 2 per cent this year.

Things may be looking a little gloomy on the economic front, but it hasn’t stopped the G from having a sunny outlook about the power of sunshine.

An $11-million floating solar photovoltaic cell test-bed was launched yesterday in the Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas. Said to be the largest in the world, the test-bed is about the size of 100 five-room HDB flats, and contains 10 different solar photovoltaic systems that will be studied over the next six months.

Two best-performing systems will be chosen and studied further as part of the nation’s venture into clean and renewable energy.


Featured image from TMG file.

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