Power struggle heats up at SRC

Longstanding president Johnny Goh, who has led the club for 22 years, has been suspended for eight months after he was found guilty of collecting signatures from members to requisition an extraordinary general meeting.
Longstanding president Johnny Goh, who has led the club for 22 years, has been suspended for eight months after he was found guilty of collecting signatures from members to requisition an extraordinary general meeting.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Latest dispute leads to president's suspension over his call to dissolve current committee

A move by several Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) members to get the club to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) to dissolve the current management committee has led to a fallout.

Longstanding president Johnny Goh, 77, who has led the club for 22 years, received an eight-month suspension for bringing "disrepute" to the club when he collected signatures from members to call for the EOGM.

He faced disciplinary action after vice-president Sarbjit Singh lodged a complaint against him for, among other things, "soliciting signatures for a false and malicious resolution".

Dr Goh has appealed against his suspension. If his appeal fails, he will not be able to contest the upcoming elections in April.

Separately, committee member Steven Goh has gone to court to compel the club to hold the EOGM.

He is asking the High Court to declare that the failure to hold an EOGM, after a requisition with 575 signatures was submitted in July last year, was a violation of the club's constitution, which states that the committee has to call an EOGM upon the requisition of 500 members.

The events are the latest in a line of disputes after a largely new committee came to power after a keenly fought election in April 2014.

  • TIMELINE

  • April 6, 2015: Singapore Recreation Club ordinary members Raymond Lim and Ron Tan submit a resolution to remove five committee members for allegedly failing to safeguard the club's monies.

    April 25, 2015: 488 members vote on the resolution at the annual general meeting - 241 say "yes", 145 "no". The rest turn in spoilt or blank votes. The resolution is not passed.

    July 3, 2015: Vice-president Sarbjit Singh lodges a complaint against president Johnny Goh for soliciting signatures from members to hold an extraordinary general meeting.

    July 7, 2015: Committee members Steven Goh and John Tan submit an EGM requisition with 575 signatures. The club's Constitution requires 500.

    Dec 22, 2015: Mr Steven Goh goes to court to compel the club to hold the EGM.

    Jan 29, 2016: A disciplinary committee suspends Dr Johnny Goh for eight months.

Nine of 12 positions went to members of a new team. Dr Goh and Mr Goh were among the three who were re-elected.

At the club's annual general meeting in April last year, ordinary members Raymond Lim and Ron Tan put up a resolution to oust five committee members - all from the new team - for allowing committee member Sam Wong to award repairs and renovations contracts to his son's company. Of the 488 votes cast, 241 said "yes", 145 said "no", and the rest were spoilt or blank votes.

Even though the highest number of votes were in favour, SRC said the resolution was not passed as it "did not attain a simple majority based on votes cast".

Mr Lim and Mr Tan wrote in to protest against the outcome and were told by the club's lawyers that they could call for a members' meeting to resolve the results.

In July last year, Mr Goh and another committee member, Mr John Tan, submitted the requisition for an EOGM, seeking a decision to pass the resolution, as well as to dissolve the committee due to "excessive conflicts and disagreements" that they say is preventing the club from progressing.

Dr Goh, who sought support for it, was found guilty of having misled members that there were conflicts and disagreements among the committee members.

"My position as president is jeopardised if the committee is dissolved, but I sought support for the EOGM as I believe it is up to the members to decide what is best for the club," he told The Straits Times.

"I have put a lot of effort into the club throughout my years of service. It makes me sad that I am now accused of bringing disrepute to the club just because I had exercised my rights as a member."

He noted that SRC had $500,000 in its coffers and about 1,000 members when he was first elected as president. Today, it has a $60 million clubhouse, a surplus of $20 million and 5,550 members.

When contacted, the club's general manager Shareef Jaffar said SRC was unable to comment.

Mr Goh's action is just one of four court cases involving the club. Mr John Tan, the former games control board chairman, is challenging his expulsion from the club for reprimanding a staff member during a meeting.

Committee member Derrick D'Souza has filed a defamation suit against the duo who put up the resolution, while SRC has sued its former general manager for allegedly taking a laptop and documents from the club.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 29, 2016, with the headline 'Power struggle heats up at SRC'. Print Edition | Subscribe