Dear A.S.S. Editor

Our local hero, Singaporean power lifter Matthew Yap, was left stranded in Belarus, and was detained in Minsk due to a “visa mix-up”. Matthew and his brother, who is also his coach, was prevented from boarding their flight home. Both were on their way back home after Matthew had broken a world record at a world lifting championship.

Ms Daphne Loo, the media officer for Powerlifting Singapore, started a crowdfunding campaign to bring the two home as they missed their flight back to Singapore, and have no money to buy new air tickets. When the brothers arrived in Minsk on June 16, they were told that no visa was required. But when they were leaving the city for home, officials detained them and demanded a US$600 (S$830) fine. When the officials realised that the brothers had no money, they waived the fine and told them to get their own air tickets home. However, they had already missed their flight due to the mix-up, and they had no other means to purchase the tickets.

MFA had worked to get the airline, Lufthansa Air, to agree to lower the fare from €949 to €603 (S$1,470 to S$935). From the crowdfunding effort, one anonymous donor contributed $2,000. The brothers are now waiting for a flight back on Friday. The boys did Singapore proud in setting a world record, in fact, they even paid their own way to take part in the competition. And our rich ministers and Ministries see it fit to only settle for a reduced cost price of an air flight, and not pay for their immediate flight home. And the flight they got will only take off on Friday. For the time being, they are stuck at the transit area with little money left. This is how we treat our local heroes, it seems.

Nathaniel Chee

A.S.S. Contributor

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