Athletics: Ho Mun Cheong beats Edmond Pereira to Singapore Athletics' top post

Ho Mun Cheong has been elected as the new Singapore Athletics (SA) president at its annual general meeting (AGM) on June 27, 2016.
Ho Mun Cheong has been elected as the new Singapore Athletics (SA) president at its annual general meeting (AGM) on June 27, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Ho Mun Cheong has been elected as the new Singapore Athletics (SA) president at its annual general meeting (AGM) held on Monday night at the Black Box Auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Ho beat Edmond Pereira 11-9 following votes cast by 20 affiliates to succeed outgoing president Tang Weng Fei, who stepped down from the top post after six years.

Ho, a 67-year-old engineer who was the incumbent honorary secretary, will be embarking on his first two-year term.

The first round of votes ended in a tie.

After the result of Ho's election was announced, the affiliates then voted in the office bearers.

Ho's team also won all three contested vice-president seats.

Dr G. Balasekaran beat Melvin Tan 12-8 to be the new vice-president (training & selection). While that vote was ongoing, Loh Chan Pew and R. Rajandran were re-elected to be the vice-president of competitions organising, and finance respectively after contenders C. Kunalan and Cheng Heng Tan withdrew from the contest and walked out of the AGM.

In the end, Ho's team won 12 out of the 14 seats in office. Only two from Pereira's camp were elected. Incumbents Ghana Segaran, the chairman (cross-country & road running) and Lee Yan Lin, the women's representative, were re-elected.

Ho was presented with a garland around his neck when the AGM concluded just before 11pm.

He said he is prepared to fulfil the responsibilities in the biggest role in local athletics.

He said: "As president, I get to meet more stakeholders such as Sport Singapore.

"Life will be busier and I need to spend more time to do more things like getting funding. I know that it'll be tough work but I'm willing to sacrifice to build and bring up track and field."

Ho also mentioned that even though the relationship between officials have soured in recent years, they would continue to work together in the future.

He said: "He (Tang) is still going to be involved in track anf field. We've known each other for a long time. Yes, we have our own views, but there's no animosity between us. You can expect us to continue to work and travel together."

He believed that their victory was down to their familiarity with the 20 affiliates, including polytechnics and universities, who voted.

Ho said: "Before voting, myself and Chan Pew have done a lot of ground work by talking to the affiliates for the past two years. I was confident of winning based on all the feedback. But I didn't expect to have a landslide victory, I expected to have a mixed team (from both sides)."

The local athletics scene has seen several public spats between its officials in recent weeks, with the acrimony gathering steam in the lead-up to the AGM.

Tang said that an internal rift had led to his June 14 decision to announce that he would not run for office again. He then backed Pereira's bid for the presidency.

Pereira said when he unveiled his team line-up on June 17: "If the members in the committee cannot work with me, then I think we have a problem. But it is not my problem. It is their problem."

Ho's team believe that a letter sent by registered mail to leaders of Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Singapore National Olympic Council was the trigger for Tang's exit. They also took issue with his decision-making and alleged that he had made "persistent unilateral actions" during his tenure at the helm, a claim which Tang later dismissed, putting it down to disagreements among members of the exco.

On Saturday, SportSG's chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin warned SA of consequences should they fail to sort out their differences and operate cohesively. He hinted that the association could face funding cuts if the internal strife continues.

He said: "Disagreements are to be expected but there is a need for these to be ironed out within a climate of mutual respect and professional decorum. If the SA continues along the current trajectory of discord, I think that progress on future plans would be in jeopardy.

"Public funding for an NSA and sport is amongst other things premised on the potential for a cohesive leadership team and fraternity to come together to advance the development of the sport in Singapore."

SA's new line-up

President: Ho Mun Cheong

Vice-president (training & selection): Dr Govindasamy Balasekaran

Vice-president (competitions): Loh Chan Pew

Vice-president (finance): R. Rajandran

Honorary secretary: Alexander C. Louis

Honorary assistant secretary: Tan Ming Jen

Honorary treasurer: Alvin Phua

Statistician: Peter Back

Women's representative: Lee Yan Lin

Chairman (officials): Joe Yap

Chairman (race walking): Dr Leong Lee San

Chairman (tech & equipment): Ong Choon Poh

Chairman (tug of war): Terry Tan

Chairman (cross-country & road running): Ghana Segaran