Singapore Chess Fed could have new leaders

Former Singapore Chess Federation president Ignatius Leong was forced to relinquish his leadership of the  Asean Chess Confederation last October.
Former Singapore Chess Federation president Ignatius Leong was forced to relinquish his leadership of the Asean Chess Confederation last October. TNP FILE PHOTO

Series of controversy leads to council meeting that could see current leaders being voted out

A series of disputes at the Singapore Chess Federation (SCF) could see its current leaders, less than six months into their two-year term, voted out tonight at an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM).

Members are set to decide on three resolutions: their confidence in Mr Leonard Lau's capacity as current SCF president, that of each council member in their respective roles and whether a new council should be elected to serve the remaining term.

A requisition form, accompanied by 51 signatures, called for the special meeting in early January. This follows a series of exchanges over about four months involving the federation's handling of a complaint by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, among other issues.

During a chess championship last June, a shouting incident took place between Singapore council member Tony Tan, who had been allegedly berating two Filipino participants, and the Filipinos' coach.

 

Three months later, the Philippine chess federation sent a letter of complaint. After a brief response from the SCF to acknowledge the complaint, the Asean Chess Confederation (ACC) then stepped in.

At the time, the ACC was headed by former SCF president Ignatius Leong, who had lost his post as head of the Singapore body to Mr Lau during elections in August.

The ACC tried to sanction the SCF with a three-year ban on Mr Tan and, subsequently, other executive board members from events sanctioned by the confederation.

But the SCF, which gained the support of the the World Chess Federation (Fide), said the ACC did not have the power to issue the sanctions. In late October, four of its committee members and Mr Leong resigned.

Mr Leong told The Straits Times the ACC has no political motivations, but the Singapore committee should be responsible for the complaint. He himself was forced to relinquish his leadership of the ACC and his council role in the SCF last October, following a two year ban by Fide due to a vote-buying controversy. He was accused of signing a contract with Russian former world champion Garry Kasparov to allegedly secure electoral votes in return for money.

Both men were found guilty of breaching Fide's code of ethics in September last year.

The SCF eventually suspended Mr Tan for two weeks last November for showing disrespect during an official event.

But it seems this was not enough for some members of the Singapore federation. Questioning how the committee dealt with other matters, such as the resignation of a trainer due to alleged harassment, the EOGM was eventually called.

When asked about tonight's EOGM, Mr Lau said he wanted to take the chance to tell his side of the story to members and requisitionists, who include former committee council members and presidents.

He said: "This is a test to see how united we are as a fraternity."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore Chess Fed could have new leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe