Papering over Youth Olympics budget mistakes

Memo to next Parliament: Members should not be reading from prepared scripts; they should speak off the cuff with no more than cue cards. Same applies to ministers replying to questions.

I caught a few minutes of Mediacorp’s Parliament report a few days ago and the lifelessness of parliamentary proceedings struck me. There’s nothing remotely like debate. Members stand up, read their questions — often, in the cases of People’s Action Party MPs, prefaced by praise for a job well done and apologies for having a question to ask, nonetheless — followed by a minister standing up and reading his reply.

This is ridiculous. Even teenagers do better at school debates.

The worst part of it is that even if the minister’s reply is full of nonsense, or begs more questions, the scripted nature of proceedings means that the member who asked the original question, or any other member, does not rise to press a point home.

Is that because the rules of proceedings do not allow impromptu questions and interjections? Or is that because none of the members in the chamber could see whitewash and nonsense when it was laid out in front them by the minister?

If it’s the first, then rules must be changed — thus, no more scripted questions and answers, as I said in my first paragraph. If it’s the second, then the whole lot of them should be turfed out for incompetence.

* * * * *

Members of Parliament Irene Ng, Zaqy Mohamad and Sylvia Lim asked Minister for Community Development and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan about the cost overruns for staging the recent Youth Olympics. He provided a breakdown of the final costs, which you can see from this graphic by the Straits Times.

Interestingly, at no time during his reply did the minister provide a breakdown of the initial estimates for comparison.

As reported by the same newspaper:

The initial YOG budget was $104 million but was revised in July to $387 million, three times the original sum.

The minister bluntly admitted the initial estimates were inaccurate, adding that he had ‘underestimated the requirements and consequential cost of several major functional areas which were necessary to host these Games’.

For instance, they did not foresee the need for costly world-class timing and information systems.

— Straits Times, 16 Sept 2010, YOG budget estimate fell short due to inexperience

Vivian Balakrishnan’s answer to the MPs desperately begged for follow-up questions.  While the unexpected need for “world-class timing and information systems” might, at a pinch, be understandable, what about the rest? Look, for example, at the final cost figure for ‘upgrading sports venue and equipment’ and ‘logistics’. They were S$76 million and S$44 million, which add up to S$120 million, higher than the original total cost estimate of S$104 million.

Was the minister trying to tell us that his ministry could not foresee these? The venues used were existing ones; we didn’t build any new facilities. Their conditions could have been assessed way back when the bid was put in for the Youth Olympics, while ‘logistics’ — cleaning, transport, supply — are everyday affairs for all sorts of events.

How on earth could his ministry fail to arrive at an initial estimate that was not even close to the final figure? We know that they totally failed in this regard because if they had some idea of these two cost components alone then the initial estimate would not have been as low as S$104 million.  It would be above S$120 million.

What it suggests is that his ministry is incompetent. They did not know the condition of their facilities and equipment, and therefore what upgrading was needed. As for logistics, they must have plucked their initial estimates out from thin air.

Yet, no member of parliament followed up to grill him on this.

Singaporeans are very poorly served by our “parliamentary democracy”.

To rub salt into the matter, the minister gave us the kind of rationalisation that treated us like children:

Elaborating on the gains from the YOG, he gave these figures: $7 million expected from merchandise and ticket sales; an additional $57 million in tourism receipts; $60 million worth of sponsored products and services; and $7.6 million in cash sponsorship.

Further, ‘all subsequent Olympic flags which are transferred to the host city, at the bottom right corner of that flag is embroidered ‘Singapore 2010”.

It is a permanent legacy that helps ensure Singapore stays on the radar of future investors, said Dr Balakrishnan.

— ibid.

There are zillions of little mementoes bearing inscriptions “Bethlehem” or “Loch Ness” taken home by tourists to these world-famous places. Are we to believe that these “permanent legacy” tokens have made them prime investment spots?

Once again, no member of parliament rose to challenge him on such juvenile statements.

* * * * *

Perhaps I need to make clear my position. Personally, I was not against hosting the Youth Olympics.  What gets me is how it compares to their refusal to spend even the same amount on Public Assistance for the destitute and needy.  Additionally, it annoys me that Vivian does not come clean and own up to the tremendous cost and public relations bungles that so characterised the event.

* * * * *

The other day, I was having dinner with some people who were civil servants. At some point during our conversation, they mentioned that they were expecting huge bonuses now that the Singapore GDP is expected to increase 13 – 15 percent this year over 2009.

I had to bite my tongue.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the GDP increase is impressive only if we ignore the fact that it was rebounding from a recession. Secondly, it was mostly achieved by shovelling more inputs, like foreign labour, into our economy. On a per capita basis, let alone taking into account income distribution towards the lower-paid, Singaporeans are not benefitting from this “growth”.

Yet, the GDP is the reference figure and key performance indicator for rewarding those in government service.

But what really tested my patience was when one person at the table said his wife might get an even bigger bonus (or extra bonus) than himself, she working in the Ministry of Community Development and Sports, and having had something to do with the “successful” Youth Olympic Games. It may well be wishful thinking on his part — I have no way of knowing how exactly bonuses are determined — but this expectation alone indicates a troubling disconnect between the “in-crowd” and those left out in the cold.

44 Responses to “Papering over Youth Olympics budget mistakes”

  1. 1 Tanky 17 September 2010 at 15:14

    It’s amazing that the “others” expenses came up to 80% of the initial budget! I can accept inaccuracy in estimates but this is way off! Btw, my wife has been on a exercise regime and I estimate that she probably lost close to 500 kg, give or take 500 kg.

  2. 2 George 17 September 2010 at 17:28

    “…she working in the Ministry of Community Development and Sports, and having had something to do with the “successful” Youth Olympic Games.”

    The govt has a surefire way of killing off/nipping in the bud any criticism or shortcoming pointed out by Singaporeans – it will heap honour as in the case of the PUB which was roundly criticized for the flash floods, or reward the civil servants as in this case of the Youth Olympic’s many boo boos. It’s a reversed psychology warfare of sorts.

    To be sure, it is in danger of digging itself even deeper into disrepute and earning the distrust of Singaporeans if it carries on with this game plan. But it seems to be desperate enough to do this, throwing everything to the wind at a perceived mortal threat to its victory at the coming GE. To quote Mah Bow Tan who blithely admitted recently that everything govt does now has got to do with the coming GE.

  3. 3 Tan 17 September 2010 at 17:57

    Even before the YOG started, netizens were already saying it will be declared a restounding success regardless of what happens.

    Like Lim Swee Say said, they are deaf to critism.

  4. 4 Seb 17 September 2010 at 18:31

    true it is not easy to find the initial break down of the estimated cost for the YOG, but it is possible – just download the the full theme 5 (finance) here:

    my favorite in there is the paragraph:

    “The Bid Committee has prepared a budget for the
    YOG in a prudent manner with inputs from national
    and international experts in each field. Both the
    revenue and expenditure forecasts have been
    conservatively calculated.”

  5. 5 Sgcynic 17 September 2010 at 19:02

    The other costs category stands out in stark contrast to the other categories. It should be broken down into sub-categories, which will exceed the 5.4m spent on education and culture. Hiding the skeleton..

  6. 6 Simple 17 September 2010 at 20:06

    1. Miscellaneous costs which is what the “other costs” are supposed to be are usually a small aggregate of minor costs too small to itemise. In this case at $79.8M it ranks as the 2nd largest item. This smells as I don’t believe there are no signifacant items in there that ought to be itemised separately.

    2. IOC actually specified as a condition for bidding of the YOG 2 years ago a ceiling bid price which is low to convey its specs for a low cost games as they knew of the low commercial value of and payback from the YOG. IOC had intended it to be a sort of R&D endeavour. Singapore’s final budget went way above its bid which was then the lowest and one of the main reasons for winning the bid. The big question is how much of the budget would have met IOC’s specs and is hence non-discretionary and how much is discretionary and spent because the politicians want to go for extravagance and political glory. For example, IOC didn’t require the $7m globe-trotting flame flight which has been stopped even for the senior Games. But Singapore wanted it for bragging purpose. Also the IT and (round-the clock )Broadcast costs which together topped well over $100m could have been reduced and saved if the state-of-the-art scoring and world linkage systems are not required by IOC in the first instance. After all for a kiddie games with little interest world-wide the systems seem like a humongous overkill. It is questionable how much of these can be of continual use given the speed of technology advancement and hence obsolescence and given the recent pronouncement by the Minister that mutliple-events games will not likely be held again at least for the next 3-4 years.

    3. The equestrian events must be very costly to organise because dozens of horses have to be flown specially from Australia and then back and maitained for possibly over a month. We and many countries do not have an equestrian sports culture. Shouldn’t this event have been scrapped? Also will the cycle park facilites become a white elephant now. It must have taken a lion’s share of the facilitie upgrading and land allocation budget for a mere 2-3 days event.

    There are many more relevant questions that can be asked. Truly the MPs are dumb in the brain or by dumbed by party rules. What a wayang and the Minister hence escapes accountabilty.

    YOG is a good concept but is IOC’s experimental brainchild and should have been seeded by it, at least in part, from its huge coffers. But Singapore has been sold to be the glorified guinea pig and suckered in to fund it at such a high expenditure with preceious funds that could have been used for more noble and much-needed good for our people.

    • 7 yawningbread 18 September 2010 at 01:02

      Your para 1: Good point, it is indeed suspicious.

      Your para 2: Singapore won because we submitted the lowest bid? This suggests something very interesting indeed: That our bid was not calculated bottom up from cost estimates, it was a figure that was never intended to reflect reality, but simply to win the bid. So the question: Did our govt hoodwink the IOC with numbers they clearly knew were invalid?

  7. 9 yuen 17 September 2010 at 20:13

    >>There’s nothing remotely like debate.

    it takes two or more people with different ideas to have a debate; when there is only one idea, the official idea, then it is called self validation, also known as talking to yourself

    (which reminds me of a joke –

    doctor: why do you think you are God?

    client: one night I was praying; suddenly I realized, I was talking to myself… )

  8. 10 ren 17 September 2010 at 20:55

    “Is that because the rules of proceedings do not allow impromptu questions and interjections? ”

    the Standing Orders of Parliament (a copy of which can be downloaded here ) Order 21 states that:

    “Supplementary questions may be put for the purpose of elucidating an oral answer, but the Speaker may refuse any such question which in his opinion introduces matter not related to the original question or which infringes any of the provisions of Standing Order No. 21 [Contents of questions]. ”

    so follow up questions can indeed be asked, but I’m not sure whether the right is limited only to the MP who has raised the question.

    anyway, i think the current batch of MPs are the worst we’ve ever seen. at least in the past we had a few backbenchers who would sometimes raise to the occasion.

  9. 11 ren 17 September 2010 at 20:58

    sorry, it should be Order 22(5).

  10. 12 anonymous 17 September 2010 at 21:17

    the big questions is, did anyone check out what was required of the host before making the bid? after all, when you tender for a project, you must know what is expected. and if you don’t, you ask. you ask the person who requires the work done, or at least someone else who has done a similar project. canada could have been consulted. otherwise, how do you cost something?

  11. 13 Prepare for lim kopi session 17 September 2010 at 22:02

    >>Yet, no member of parliament followed up to GRILL him on this.


  12. 14 No VD..thanks to VB 17 September 2010 at 22:08

    My simple question: HOW MANY CONDOMS ISSUED AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REMAINING STOCK…re-sold like the tickets?

  13. 15 yawningbread 18 September 2010 at 00:58

    Seb – Thank you for the link. I found this nugget under “Youth Olympic Village:


    The Youth Olympic Village (YOV) will be situated at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) new campus. Precedence over all other government projects will be given to the construction of YOV to ensure its completion by February 2010.


    In the end, the athletes were NOT housed at the NUS campus, but at NTU. Why? Look at the picture accompanying the above text and you will see that it indicates the new development bounded by AYE, Clementi Road and Dover Road (the former Warren Golf Club). That whole complex is still under construction.

    In other words, don’t laugh at other Olympic cities for last minute rush jobs to finish venues, or for that matter the Cwealth games construction rushing to finish in New Delhi (which Straits Times has been reporting about with some relish).

    Singapore too promised a venue which despite our touted on-time project management skills, we NEVER FINISHED building on time!

    Strange, no media picked this up earlier.

    • 16 Seb 18 September 2010 at 18:38

      I am not quite sure about it. I think the Straits Times reported about the plan to give up the NUS YOG village project. NTU as an alternative site is even mentioned in the 2008 Olympic Evaluation (on page 14).

      My questions I would like to ask how Singapore could have mis-calculated the budget on such a high level. No experience is no excuse with all ‘the experts’ on hand. besides organizing the NDP can be compared to the opening and closing ceremony. It wouldn’t have cost much to ask CAAS too if it is permitted to transport the olympic flame in an civil aircraft. Although i find the stated 2 billion viewership highly questionable.

  14. 17 prettyplace 18 September 2010 at 01:13

    I think VB was just trying to hide the fact that they fell into into the IOC trap.
    IOC proberbly did not give a fair breakdown on cost & required standards before the bidding. VB cannot mention this because of IOC, being who they are.
    I have to agree that the guys & gals in our sports industry and the people at MCYS are natural goondus. They have no idea of costing for such events. In the fisrt place they have never done this before.However, alittle bit of smarter work would have got them the figures.

    I think it was just an idea from someone in PAP to host it and MCYS got trapped. This happens all the time in sporting events. Nobody can gauge it, but being so far, I wonder what costing people at Deloitte do, perhaps they should have got Touche into the act.

    And on the Q&A sessions, did you expect anything else? Poor you.
    I’ve been seeing this for years, except when JBJ was around, when I had to run for the dictionary on dad’s orders.

    I am still not satisfied with MCYS for not planning a future for our young talents and wearing blinkers on the YOG as an investment attraction.
    Please, Sports is an Industry. It can create jobs, can and will improve our GDP and better our lives in Singapore.
    Start looking at it like the Aussies.

  15. 18 Gecko 18 September 2010 at 08:03

    Frankly I am not surprised by the Parliament proceedings. Are you not too?

    This is the problem arising if you have 50% walkovers, 66% mandate and 98% seats at elections.

    But can anything be done to “improve” or “fix” the situation?

    Or rather can anyone forecast the outcome with ACCURACY at the next elections? Anyone can make forecast but it is accuracy that matters.

  16. 19 Disappinted 18 September 2010 at 11:55

    The least the government could do was to do a proper breakdown of the budget and apologize for the burst in budget. Not only did VB not apologize for the easy approval of the extra 200 million, he also went on to defend the burst of 3 times the budget, saying that Singapore would have hosted the YOG anyway if they had known that it would cost 300 million plus.

    It all boils down to the politics of PAP. Whenever they make a mistake, they will never apologize, lest showing to the people that it was a big mistake. But in actual fact, all of them don’t have moral courage to scutinize what has been already done, leaving every issue hangng in mid air.

    The statement by VB saying that Singapore would host the YOG even if the budget was 387 milion just shows that he is incapable of respecting the use of taxpayers’ money. Where could he just have plucked 200 plus milion out from? This issues were not clrified by the MPs and it is reallt disgusting to know that the Singapore governemtn can so easily show off how efficient thay are to the rest of the world when they visit. But when they are gone, life in Singapore is actually not like they experienced. YOG lanes dedicated for YOG buses, super comfortable accomadation for the athletes and officials, etc. All the government is doing is putting up a show for the foreigners, but never really maintaining what they can do for Singaporeans.

    When it comes to the “Others” part in the budget, it is so ambiguous that they could have even declared only half the budget. It is really hiding all the important facts from us. Making up 79.8% of the budget is really not what I wuold consider the usually trivial stuff that make up the budget spending. With such amiguity in the budget, who knows if they could have spent 700 million on the YOG?

  17. 20 Fullofnonsence 18 September 2010 at 13:14

    In other parts of the world, if you have a script and reading from it infront of an audience, you are called an “Actor”.

  18. 22 liew kai khiun 18 September 2010 at 17:11

    This reflects on a climate of complacency in the political culture in parliament as well as in the entire nation as a whole. What transpired indicates a laziness and arrogance and inability to even put up a superficial show.

  19. 23 Ghost of YOG 18 September 2010 at 20:17

    YOG is not a bad idea. But I think the arrest of a blogger during YOG was a Public Relations disaster. Now I do not think we will ever recover the money. Do you know what some teens are now calling YOG?

  20. 25 malu 18 September 2010 at 21:37

    Minister V Balakrishnan is given all the raps.

    Why? Is it because he played hero and said that he will shoulder all mistakes that happened with YOG? It seems that MP Teo Ser Luck had thus far not been mentioned in most blogs about the YOG Fiasco.

    Takened that the Expenditures for the YOG far exceeded the original estimates, it was nevertheless still chicken feed compared to losses by GIC and Temasek Holdings in oversea investments that ran into tens of billions. In the case of YOG, there are at least many equipments, sports infrastructures purchased and built which can be used. Our sports talents also benefitted in competing, gaining experiences related to organizing large scale sporting events and Singapore gains in glorifying itself. Many tangibles are left to remind Singaporeans of the grossly under estimated budget.

    However, for losses in oversea investments, the huge losses are by now quite forgottened and as for those incharge of GIC and Temasek Holdings, do Singaporeans remember them?

    Minister V Balakrishnan made mistakes and he declared himself responsible when the YOG was in progress. Despite him providing explanations, he is found wanting and said to be trying hard to exonerate or put up too much invalid excuses. However, he at least explained and put himself up to face the critics. Looks like he is good material for post of Prime Minister.

    • 26 KT 19 September 2010 at 00:45

      ‘it was nevertheless still chicken feed compared to losses by GIC and Temasek Holdings in oversea investments that ran into tens of billions.’

      How many investments do GIC and Temasek have in total? Probably thousands? Losses on a few investments at one moment in time do not necessarily reflect their long term, overall performance, which is what matters. And which you know nothing about. Your comment is, hence, nonsensical.

  21. 27 malu 19 September 2010 at 09:25

    Long term as in 30 years or more? Many may not live to see it.

    Money lost is loss, if a gambler says losses can be recouped, recovered or even make more profits after, you believe him/her?

    • 28 KT 19 September 2010 at 12:49

      Long term as in at least one business cycle – one up and one down cycle at least. A portfolio that performs badly may do brilliantly in an up cycle. A big hero in a bull market may lose all that he has and more when the cycle turns.

      True investing is nothing like gambling. Buffet has outperformed cycle after cycle. Do you think he gambles, or he worries about losses/gains this month or next? Or every one of his investments is brilliant?

  22. 29 Juliana 19 September 2010 at 11:48

    I thought the jet that was used to carry the flame was already 7.5M, so how can the whole journey of the flame be lesser than that??????

  23. 30 GEORGE 19 September 2010 at 12:52

    Only a 3 years old kid would believe that the Olympic
    Committee would agree to hand over the organization of the YOG to a country without receiving assurances that the country knows what to do!

    As it is the very first such event, surely the International Olympic Committe has a lot riding on it, since it would make or break any further such events.

    My conclusion is that Singapore in the person of either VB or Teo Ser Luck and highly possibly with the backing of the cabinet PURPOSELY under quoted/underestimated the cost to beat rival bids -in this case the Russian Federation – knowing full well that actual cost would finally balloon in the end. This pleased the IOC since it wants the YOG to become a regular event.

    But whether the YOG is something countries truly support could be seen from the absence of countries like the US and the lack of emphasis, enthusiasm or support by many countries. The Singapore YOG had obviously very little significance as far as the sporting calender is concerned in many many countries. Miniscule publicity if at all. And I suspect that Singapore must have resorted to using its diplomats to persuade countries to take part. Some countries like Israel and the UK probably came out of maintaining goodwill or giving face.

    At the end of the day the Singapore YOG basically met two POLITICAL needs – that of the IOC and Singapore’s govt. The latter wanted it as it is on some CABINET-LEVEL lists of public embellishment, ie, the BOASTING RIGHT, to locals, foreigners (esp. those it wants to impress to stay on here permanently) and as part of the run up preparation to impress/buy the public just before the GE.

    As an aside, how many could have missed the really really extensive coverage in the Straits Times on the GE – the detailed (NEVER seen before) coverage of constituencies, GRC, why the need for boundary changes (as if we don’t know), etc, the whole works. It is NATIONAL EDUCATION CUM BRAINWASHING CUM PROPAGANDA all roll into one for the newcomers in our midst. The Straits Times is not called the National Service newspaper for nothing! A lot is at stake for both the PAP and the people of Singapore.

    My prediction is that if the PAP is returned without a diminished majority it would forever be alienating the born here and bred here true blue Singaporeans to a very Significant extent. It would also create a new type of political force here. Installed would be a newbie Singaporean group made up of the newly minted Singaporeans who would know very well the pivotal rule they play in the social-political environment here. This largely educated lot will be no push overs by future PAP policies or leaders. The PAP will try to co-opt them into the party so as to make them opinion leaders of the new group, but this would be easier said than done.

    In the end we will see that beginning of even more polarization of Singapore’s social and political environment. There would be competition between locals in many respects, including the business and commercial sectors, as the newbies bring with them their connections from their motherland/fatherland. This is a development not entirely within the govt’s ability or scope to control.

  24. 31 Anon 19 September 2010 at 12:57

    I refer to KT’s comment related to malu’s post.
    It is not nice to call other’s pov nonsensical without providing any substantive counter argument. The logic that investments are made in many different businesses and for unrestricted and unlimited time span is akin to saying putting egges in different baskets is a surety against damages. Sure, if one basket is destroyed, eggs in other baskets are safe, but does that means no egg lost? And what to stop the eggs from rotting or spoilt at the same time in different baskets or when the rack holding all the baskets of eggs tumbled or caught fire, which in investments means a global or regional financial meltdown?

    Ditto losses in financial investments by Town Councils. Does all these mean that so long investments are diverse and in different categories of goods or services, losses in some do not matter overall?

    As the nature of the arguments is ciruitous in itself, I am unlikely to be able to end it conclusively. Do look forward to read the views of others.

    • 32 KT 19 September 2010 at 18:47

      Read my comment again. My argument was that Malu did not have enough information to judge whether GIC and Temasek are good investors given the lack of disclosure. They may be much worse than what Malu thinks. Then again, they may be better. No one knows except them.

      I didn’t say ‘putting egges (sic) in different baskets is a surety against damages’. Nothing in life is sure except death. However, you can minimize damages if you know how and if you accept that minimizing damages comes at a price. And if you have a reasonable definition for damages. If you can’t accept that there may be losses on some investments in the portfolio, I can assure you no asset manager would meet your mark. Not even the great Warren Buffet, never mind GIC or Temasek.

  25. 33 Kenneth 19 September 2010 at 13:39

    Hahaha. It’s as though the mascots are saying goodbye to the $387 million.

  26. 34 auntielucia 19 September 2010 at 17:34

    “What gets me is how it compares to their refusal to spend even the same amount on Public Assistance for the destitute and needy:

    I don’t agree with much of what you say in yr blog but this point today is spot on. So d’accord!

  27. 35 reasonable person 20 September 2010 at 01:26

    You cannot blame Vivian Balakrishnan if YOG cannot break even. You have to ask yourself one simple marketing question. How wise was it for the Singapore Police Force to arrest a blogger for use a word metaphorically during the height of the YOG? How will this be perceived by most reasonable people in the international community? How will this affect their decision to visit Singapore? What will they think of us?

  28. 36 Loch 20 September 2010 at 10:26

    Our Parliamentary proceedings could have been done via emails….and we wouldn’t have missed a thing!! Freaking highly scripted mickey mouse proceedings, so unlike the real thing in the UK.

  29. 37 Loch 20 September 2010 at 10:28

    VB should pin up the YOG mascotts in his office to remind himself of his cock up

  30. 38 Singapaporean 20 September 2010 at 12:02

    Any mention of the repair to Jamaica’s stadium?????

  31. 39 T 20 September 2010 at 17:45

    Well, for what it is worth, India’s Commonwealth Games is going to have cost overrun of nearly 1000%.

    /// The escalating cost of more than $5 billion—nearly 10 times the 2003 budget estimates—has failed to give Delhi a refurbished look, as it appears more like a giant construction site with piles of debris, leaking roofs, dug-up sidewalks, and pools of stagnant water dotting the areas around the venues.///

  32. 40 Dumb Ass 20 September 2010 at 20:53

    OH yeah Oh Yeah oh Yeah (point your finger at you), you are one singapore…. blah blah many many times cost $79 million….

    sure …
    OH yeah Oh Yeah oh Yeah (point your finger at you) you are the DUMB singapore!

  33. 41 fisherman 20 September 2010 at 21:40

    There’s an interesting pattern in how when we jump into what we think is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, we often find these opportunities bitter pills to swallow. Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and now YOG. Winner’s Curse. There’s an asymmetry of information between the buyers and seller that puts the inexperienced buyer at a disadvantage. So the lesson here is that we should always be humble and not let ego get the better of us. Whether its our own investments or taxpayer’s money. Look at our track record, we have never organized any global sporting event. F1 is probably the closest example but for that, we bought the franchise rights and so we have help in organizing it. So how were we able to confidently assume that we can host a global event? Another mistake is that we picked an event that has not yet gained a global following. So, what we end up with is a situation where we have an inexperienced team producing a brand new product. So the odds are really stacked against us.

  34. 42 Spoke 20 September 2010 at 22:08

    I think having a fake Loch Ness or creepy unknown monster in our Singapore river would reap more benefits than YOG. Examples,

    – It will put us in international news
    – It will raise tourism
    – We can sell Loch Ness stuffies

    Isn’t it better?

  35. 43 viv 30 September 2010 at 09:51

    So our national paper reported yesterday a marked increase in tourism in August because of the YOG, though it’s a moot point considering participants contributed to a majority of that.

    (btw i linked this entry to my blog because i think it warrants pre-election discussion).

  36. 44 sgcynic 9 April 2011 at 09:10

    “In a letter to Today published on Friday, the SDP said the party will take on MCYS Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC to hold him accountable for the YOG budget, which ended up three times the initial S$104 million planned.

    In response, MCYS sports director Koh Peng Keng pointed out that although the YOG was one-third the size of the Summer Olympics, its expenditure was less than 10 per cent of the most recent Games.”

    This tells us that MCYS had thought that they could pull off organizing an event of the scale 1/3 the size of comparable with 1/30 of budget.

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