Bidding Goodbye to SEA Games – 5 Controversial Highlights


As the SEA Games come to a close, we Singaporeans would like to tell our TeamSG athletes that we’re very proud of all of you for winning Singapore so many medals!!! Even though we’re trailing in ranking as second for the number of gold medals with Thailand in the lead, Singapore still has the highest number of medals; and that is an applaudable feat!

Amidst the winnings, there have been unhappiness as well. Let us review some controversial happenings during the SEA games season in Singapore.

1. Gender check request for female Indonesia volleyball player Aprilia Santini Manganang 

The Philippines had demanded that the SEA Games organisers carry out a gender test on female Indonesian volleyball player Aprilia Santini Manganang, saying that the player’s powerful physique and skills are too masculine. Her looks were said to be of consideration as well, when the demand was made. However, the Indonesia volleyballer has passed the FIVB tests long ago, and the appeal was rejected. The Philippines supporters also booed and jeered at the her during the match, which in my opinion, is very unnecessary. She’s a legitimate women, where’s the sportsmanship?

2. Sharon Au’s Racist Comment

Sharon Au made a racist comment while hosting the opening ceremony of the SEA Games, by mocking an Indian girl’s accent when she refused to speak out during the audience-interaction section. This was followed by an apology by Sharon herself. I’m sure she only wanted the comical effect and did not have any ill intentions towards any race/ethnic!

3. Malaysian gymnast slammed for ‘inappropriate attire’

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi recently came under attack: fire from mouths of Malaysian netizens saying that her attire is ‘inappropriate’ and ‘too revealing’ for a Muslim. Malaysian Gymnastics Federation secretary N. Shanmugarajah said: “The leotards our gymnasts wear are FIG (International Federation of Gymnastics) approved and you have to wear them if you want to compete.” (Source: Straits Times)

Seriously though, she just won your nation a gold medal and you criticize her attire? What do you expect her to wear then? Do you expect her to lose a gold medal, potential experience and opportunity just because some people deem her attire ‘inapproriate’?

Many Malaysians rallied round the gymnast, who starred with six medals in total including golds in the women’s team event and women’s floor exercise. Among them was Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who tweeted: “In gymnastics Farah wowed the judges and brought home gold. “In her deeds only the Almighty judges her. Not you. Leave our athletes alone.” (Source: Straits Times) Case closed.

4. Filipino Divers: Hero to Zero? 

The video of two Filipino divers at the SEA Games had gone viral as they both scored zero points for their individual dives. Read more about it and watch the video HERE. They received many negative comments, as people were commenting that if they were not ready they should not even compete.

Recently, Pahoyo, one of the divers, shared a video of him and Fabriga pulling off a successful synchronized dive, saying,

“Yey! I’m so proud of us pakner John Fabriga, we really did our best despite of we just practiced this synchro dives for just 4 days, even though we failed to win, but at least we did overcame what we once knew was out limit, and that makes us a champion,” he wrote. “Thanks coach Brian Palattao for your endless support and immeasurable love to us from the preparation until the end of this competition, and special thanks to the people who’s doing their best to make this experience possible, I owe you all of this 🙂 “

I personally think that it’s a feat accomplishing a successful synchronized dive in just 4 days of training! Don’t you think so?

5. Athletes who stayed at RWS affected by a bout of food-poisoning

Quite a few SEA games cyclists were struck down with a suspected case of food poisoning, which resulted in our Singaporean athlete Dinah Chan losing her women’s individual time-trial crown. She had to settle for a bronze medal in the end. Singapore cyclist Darren Low had just completed the men’s individual time trial race at the 28th SEA Games on Thursday, when he started retching and said he suffered from the effects of food poisoning as well.

“The Singapore Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC) has received a report of an incident involving a bout of loose stools that has affected a few athletes early this morning,” organisers said in a statement. “We are investigating the matter with the relevant authorities and reinforcing hygiene practices.” (Source: Channel News Asia)

Amidst all these controversies, Singapore still did a fantastic job hosting the SEA Games! For performing above and beyond what was expected of them, Team Singapore’s 747-strong contingent was given a glowing report card by team officials at a post-Games media conference. The team had garnered 83 golds, 73 silvers and 102 bronzes as of Tuesday morning, putting Singapore second on the overall medal standings, behind regional kingpins Thailand. It is a showing that surpasses Singapore’s previous best haul of 50 golds, 40 silvers and 74 bronzes when the Games were last held on home soil in 1993. (Source: Straits Times) Good job Team Singapore!!!

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