Olympics: Ng Ser Miang says no anxiety, no stress, just a sense of calm
- POSTED: 10 Sep 2013 07:22
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For someone who is about to find out if he will become the most powerful man in sports, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Ng Ser Miang cuts a surprisingly relaxed, almost zen-like figure.
BUENOS AIRES: For someone who is about to find out if he will become the most powerful man in sports, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Ng Ser Miang cuts a surprisingly relaxed, almost zen-like figure.
On Tuesday, the Singaporean will discover at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires if he, Thomas Bach, Richard Carrion, Wu Ching-kuo, Denis Oswald or Sergey Bubka will succeed Jacques Rogge as IOC President.
Whatever the result, the outcome will mark the culmination of a year-long journey that has taken Ng from Colombia to China, and from Senegal to Spain, one that has caused him to be rarely at home, and to spend more time sleeping in planes than in his own bed.
Yet, despite the hustle and bustle of the past 12 months, the 64-year-old, who is also Chairman of supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice and Singapore's Ambassador to Norway, told TODAY that he has never felt stressed by the presidential race.
"The first magic formula is that you must enjoy it, and be relaxed about the outcome and that the process is really important," said the former national sailor.
"I've no illusions about the chances of losing versus the chances of winning... By putting my candidature forward, I believe I've helped to raise the bar."
His resume bears testimony to this.
Since his entry into the Lausanne-based body in 1998, Ng has built an impressive reputation within the IOC. He spearheaded the organising of the 117th IOC Session in Singapore in 2005 - which reaped S$40 million in spin-offs and S$19 million in tourism receipts - and the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games, which was a brainchild of Rogge.
Ng's achievements in sports administration mirror his successes as a businessman.
In 1976, three years after graduating from the University of Singapore with a business administration degree, he joined the Singapore Shuttle Bus company, which was in disarray, and turned it around in two years.
He also started Singapore's second bus company, Trans-Island Bus Services (Tibs), in 1982 after raising capital by selling his Thomson bungalow for S$800,000 and borrowing S$1 million from his father. Twenty-two years later in 2004, he made S$80 million when SMRT Corp took over the company.
Despite Ng's impressive CV, the general sentiment in Buenos Aires is that fellow IOC Vice-President Bach remains the favourite to succeed Rogge.
A protege of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, the 59-year-old German, who is a lawyer and a former Olympic fencing champion, is also said to enjoy the support of Kuwait's highly-influential IOC member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees.
The IOC's alleged Eurocentricity - American Avery Brundage has been the only non-European of its eight Presidents since it was formed in 1894 - is also seen as favouring Bach's chances.
But many believe Ng is likely to be Bach's biggest rival. In his 28-page manifesto, he states a desire to offer ordinary IOC members a greater voice in the organisation. It could well turn out to be a masterstroke.
This is because while most of the IOC's decisions are currently made by the Executive Board, there is an increasing groundswell of support for a greater voice among ordinary members in the running of the IOC.
As such, many members may identify with Ng's plan to give them a bigger say.
"It's most important that those involved in the organisation should share and own this common vision," said Ng.
"(But) you must have a strong team that is able to do the work. The President is like the chairman.
"If he does the right delegation and can leverage on the different strengths of the organisation and its different components, then you have a very strong basis for the organisation to move forward."
Another reason why Ng remains calm and zen-like is his family.
He has two daughters, Xuan Hui and Xuan Ming, and a son, Chong Geng, who are aged between 27 and 36, with his first wife Ko Ai Choo, who died in 1999. He is now married to Madam E Hong, a businesswoman.
Family keeps him grounded and helps him to hold firm to his principles, he explained.
"In life, I've dealt with many different challenges and happenings. Some are pleasant, others not so. But that's life and it comes with the job," he said.
"As long as you hold onto your principles, it'll be easy. The work itself may be difficult, but making the right decisions is more straightforward as long as you hold onto your fundamental principles."
Ng hopes his decision to run for the highest office in sport will inspire other Singaporeans to aim higher and punch above their weight.
"Singapore will always have a special place in my heart," said Ng, who was born in China in 1949 and arrived here when he was one.
"I would want to support the strengthening of sporting culture in Singapore, and make sure the Sports Hub will be one of the centres of the world's sporting activity, and I will want to continue pushing for exposure of Singaporeans in different sports and different fields of sports.
"I hope it will help us to think even more out of the box and what we can achieve. Whether I'm elected or not, this is something I want to work on."
Watch the election of the next IOC President "live" on StarHub Ch112/201 on Tuesday from 11.30pm to midnight.