If they won't stay, then what is the whole point of the Foreign Talent Sports Scheme which spirited them to our city-state?
Implicit in the arrangement where foreigners are flown to the city-state and Singaporeanised so they can don national colours and play for Singapore is the assumption that they would eventually call this country home, settle down and add to the gene pool. All this while, their Singapore-born compatriots were supposed to benefit from having sparring partners whose presence helps lift the level of assorted sports to new levels.
Alas, the pull of the Chinese motherland has proven too strong for some. Their readiness in heading
Two table tennis stars have already decided to head back to China after announcing their respective retirements.
Ms Li Jiawei's decision to be "based in China" mirrors the move by former teammate Ms Wang Yuegu, who headed home after quitting the sport this August.
While not quite enough to indicate a trend, how many more must do the same before one realises the Foreign Talent Sports Scheme may not be working as intended?
Sure, we won armfuls of medals but is this the endgame engineered by the scheme? One had the impression it was supposed to persuade foreign talent to sink their roots here - which clearly isn't happening.
Perhaps we overrated the appeal of Singaporean citizenship to benchwarmer sports "stars" whose departure from their mother country marked no big loss to their erstwhile home nation's Olympic ambitions.
Maybe we, as a country, failed to do more to keep our new citizens feeling part and parcel of life in Singapore.
Could we have miscalculated just how much the war bounty in Singapore dollars, amassed from successful sporting campaigns, translates to when coverted into their currency of choice. It represents not just wealth, mind you, but an opportunity for starting life afresh at a new social strata, thanks to Singaporean tax payers.
It would be a mockery of Singapore's national identity if the global sports community views the Foreign Talent Sports Scheme as a lottery ticket to untold fame and riches, provided one is willing to pay the price of lipsynching an alien national anthem [Note: Singapore's national anthem is in the Malay language] and having the Singapore flag temporarily eclipse ties to their country of birth.
Even if we dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" dutifuly, perhaps it's time to recognise the painful reality that what we value as our Singaporean identity isn't cherished or treasured the same way by some of our foreign imports.
Such theorising would be harmless if not for the hard truth that the Foreign Talent Sports Scheme runs on tax payers dollars - all of which could have been put to better use nurturing the fraternity of Singapore-born sports boys and girls in achieving greater heights.
To be sure, this kind of argument has to be trotted out delicately because it flirts with the Establishment's cluster bomb defence which is to label the commentator as being closed-minded, anti-immigrant, even xenophobic.
The mainstream media has thus far been kind on Jiawei.
The 90 cents newspaper quoted her saying: "It's impossible to describe my feelings now in just one or two sentences."
The paper added sympathetically:"It is not hard to understand why, since her link to her adopted country goes beyond simply sharing the same birthday - Aug 9." [Note: The 9th of August is Singapore's National Day]
It followed up with this bizarre line:"Li has spent more time here in Singapore than in China, her country of birth." [One should certainly expect that to be the case because Jiawei is a Singaporean. Where else do you expect her to spend her time? Outer Mongolia?]
The clearest signal that Jiawei's decision to be "based in China" isn't some euphemism for a long-term stay in the Middle Kingdom could have been drawn from the fate of her three-year-old Singapore-born son, Tianrui.
Nobody bothered to ask what plans the Singaporeanised mother has for Tianrui. News reports are silent whether he will someday serve National Service alongside the sons of Singapore, whose parents cheered and rooted for mummy during her heyday.
Don't bet on it.