Former long-serving Potong Pasir Member of Parliament (MP) Chiam See Tong has launched a charity aimed at helping disadvantaged children to achieve their sporting dreams.
Called the Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation, Chiam, 81, and his wife, Lina Chiam, will serve as patrons. Both were present at the launch of the foundation held at the Arts House at Old Parliament House on Thursday evening (9 March).
The idea for launching the foundation was first mooted in August last year, after the Chiams witnessed Joseph Schooling’s gold medal win at the Olympics in Rio, which evoked a wave of emotions for the former MP.
Former Singapore swimmer Ang Peng Siong, who once held the world 50m freestyle record, will serve as the chairman for the board of foundation. Singapore Swimming Association Vice-President Jose Raymond will serve as deputy chairman.
The foundation is aiming to raise $1 million and help at least 100 children in its first year.
One of the objectives of the foundation, which the tagline “We believe in you”, is to build the character of children and youths from under-resourced families through their participation in sports.
While there are already a few sports funds aimed at helping children in Singapore, the foundation is seeking to help children who have not had the opportunity to receive help.
“I think this is just extending the cast of the net to areas that are not connected yet,” said Ang.
“The government has taken a lot of initiatives to help as much as possible… We want to ensure that there’s opportunities for those who really need it. That’s work in progress, hopefully with due process it will all come together.”
Fifteen children from Pekik, a self-help group, were the first beneficiaries of the foundation. Each of them were presented with a pair of football boots, purchased in part by the $70,000 contributed by the Chiams and members of the board.
At present, the foundation has not set a criteria for individuals who seek help from the foundation.
But according to Raymond, it is about trying to “help as many as possible”.
“We are going to reach out to them… we are going try help as many of them as possible. But I think in the initial stages we are going to do a lot of outreach through our stakeholders, the multiple welfare organisations and social service organisations, football clubs, schools.”
Other events the foundation plans to hold include a fund raising dinner and a 24-hour swimming marathon.
The foundation is already registered as a society and is taking the steps to be registered as a charity with the Institution of Public Character status.
Mrs Chiam believes that the foundation will continue to show how much Mr Chiam loves helping the people.
“He’s a people-centric person. He was in politics speaking for the people. Now it is in another area, but he’s still with the people,” she said.
“His motto is always for the people, for the country. So now, he can hopefully nurture under-resourceful children who have passion for the sport to finally bring glory to Singapore one day,” she said.