13 September 2013

Reflections On Ng Ser Miang's Bid For IOC President

The recent International Olympic Committee proceedings in Buenos Aires received considerable coverage by MediaCorp.

What did the proceedings involve?

▪ Choosing the host city for the 2020 Games from among Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.

▪ Choosing from among wrestling, squash and baseball which sport should be added to the 2020 and 2024 Games.

▪ Electing new members.

▪ Electing IOC executive board members.

▪ Electing IOC president.

I believe many Singaporeans had, at most, a passing interest in the outcome of the proceedings.

MediaCorp's deputy sports editor Tan Yo-Hinn and The Straits Times's sports editor Marc Lim spent several days in distant Buenos Aires to cover the proceedings.

Writing about the 10 September election of the IOC president, Mr Tan said that Singaporean Ng Ser Miang was widely regarded as one of the two main rivals of front-runner Thomas Bach.[1]

In another later article, Mr Tan wrote that Messrs Ng and Bach were the hottest names in Buenos Aires. "Depending on who [sic] you believe, either Germany's Thomas Bach or Singapore's Ng Ser Miang is the frontrunner..."[2]

He was completely wrong.

When the time came, Mr Ng finished joint last in the first round of voting and a distant third with six votes out of 93 votes in the second round.

Like probably many other people, I have not the slightest interest in whom the past IOC president was or whom the next IOC president is.
So what explains Singapore media's interest in the IOC presidential election that they could not rely on cheaper news feeds?

And why did Singapore's political establishment praise Mr Ng's campaign after he lost?[3]

Let's be clear. Mr Ng's quest to be IOC president is a personal matter. It had nothing to do with Singapore, other than he is Singaporean. Had he been elected, he would not be representing Singapore or Singapore National Olympic Council. Had he been elected, it would be Mr Ng in his personal capacity who would be IOC president, not Singapore.

Consider retiring IOC president Jacques Rogge. Did it matter to anyone — even the Belgians — that he is Belgian?

Do we feel so insignificant or so little that one citizen's private quest to be IOC president was made to seem like an endeavour of, or on behalf of, the country?

Perhaps, that is why some people resort to importing foreign athletes to win medals for Singapore, even when many citizens have no emotional bonding with imported foreign athletes nor an iota of pride in the medals won.

Mr Ng was chairman of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee, for which he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. The Games cost Singapore tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars to host.

Mr Ng is a director of Singapore Press Holdings Limited, which has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Ltd, the publisher of TODAY. SPH publishes The Straits Times.


1. Decision Time in Argentina TODAY 7 Sep 2013.

2. Ng, Bach the Hottest Names in Buenos Aires TODAY 9 Sep 2013.

3. IOC Vote: Strong Praise for Ng Despite Defeat The Straits Times 11 Sep 2013 12:28 am.

This article was updated on 14 Sep 2013 to include references to The Straits Times's sports editor Marc Lim, who was also in Buenos Aires, and other minor changes.


  1. One word : E G O ...

    I was told that Ng Ser Miang insisted on flying on personal jet when handling the Youth Olympics, citing this as a norm for such events. The public foot this bill.

    I'm sure that Ng's bid (including all his trips to curry flavor other countries to vote for him) were all paid by the public too.

    Funny, when it comes to sending athletes to Asian games for exposure / competition, we are so stingy. We only send if we're assured there's a chance of a medal.

    In this case, we got hood-winked by Ser Miang that he's a strong contendor and the Govt actually spent all these money on 1 single individual.

    Maybe Vivian can release another dossier ???

  2. It seems reasonable to infer that the YOG fiasco was at the behest of Ng. The governmnent was keen to "prove" to critics that the extravaganza was worth it if Ng was elected. Indeed YOG would have featured in the running of the"good campaign" by him, to quote the PM. When everything seems to be falling apart in the little red dot the diversion offered by the media about the IOC election is a welcome relief with the possible reaping of the reflected glory if Ng won. Signs of desperation.

  3. A front runner coming in a distant 3rd? Perhaps a reflection of GE2016.

    Ng can of course try for the much more lucrative Presidency of Singapore.