Sport and nation building in Singapore : a delicate balance between spontaneous nationalism and bilateral ties, 1965-1977
Wong, Jeremy Zhi Sheng
Date of Issue2017
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
This paper argues that sport and nation building represents a contradiction in post independent Singapore (1965-1977). Pegged against the political backdrop of uncertain bilateral ties with Malaysia and other surrounding nations, the nationalism generated by Singapore athletes and ordinary Singaporeans on the ground was often at odds with the PAP government’s objective of using sport events as a platform to improve such bilateral ties. Moreover, such spontaneous nationalism as I term it, is not easily controlled. This goes directly against the paternalistic nature of the ruling party, which keeps a tight lease on all spheres of society, including sport, which was intermingled with social and political concern. Another point of contradiction would refer to the government’s often dismissive attitude toward competitive sport. This was evident in the poor funding of sport associations and support for national sportsmen alike. Moreover, this was reflected in the ruling party “sport for all” policy in the 1970s which emphasized mass-participation instead of winning gold medals in international competitions such as the Southeast Asia Peninsular (SEAP) Games and the Olympic Games. This binary divide of objectives between the PAP and national athletes inevitably led to tension between the former and latter.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University