Athletics: Singapore Athletics management torn apart by in-fighting, set to elect new leaders

Outgoing Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei (left) congratulating his successor Ho Mun Cheong on June 27, 2016.
Outgoing Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei (left) congratulating his successor Ho Mun Cheong on June 27, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -Singapore Athletics (SA) is set for a leadership reshuffle, less than a year after current president Ho Mun Cheong led his team to a landslide victory at the election of office bearers last June.

The Straits Times understands that several members of the management committee intend to call for an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) next month, when the election of new leaders will be on the agenda.

According to the SA constitution, an EOGM can be called "upon the signed requisition of 10 affiliated members". The management committee comprises 14 elected members. Ho's team swept 12 of the 14 positions on offer in June last year. SA has 21 affiliates.

Asked about the EOGM, Ho declined to comment. He only said: "We want to concentrate on the Singapore Open (on April 27-28). We want to do a good job and make it successful and show all the affiliates what we can do."

It is believed that the snap election is prompted by numerous disagreements over a myriad of issues, which has torn the leadership apart.

A member of the management committee claimed that there had been "no room for proper and mature discussions" during meetings.

He added: "It seems that the internal conflict among the exco is getting out of hand. Some members had questioned the integrity of the president in the presence of the management committee members."

One issue which has polarised the leadership is the appointment of former national women's floorball coach Jaime Cheong as general manager. There are questions raised over her suitability for the role.

In a meeting agenda seen by The Straits Times, another issue was apparent "unilateral actions" by the president, such as the convening of meetings on short notice.

Aside from the leadership turmoil, it is believed that national sports governing body Sport Singapore has also withheld funding from SA since July last year.

The association has been dipping into its reserves and are in talks with SportSG to work out the funding documents it needs to submit.

Pressed about the SA's internal strife and funding woes, a SportSG spokesman said: "There was a commitment to build a more cohesive athletics fraternity when Mr Ho Mun Cheong and his team came on board. We hope that the leadership will be able to work through the issues.

"The budget for athletics has been approved since last year and we are currently awaiting the submission of some documents before disbursing the funds. The funding includes the agreed support for the new technical director Volker Herrmann."

It remains to be seen how this dispute will affect SA's preparations for August's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. At the last SEA Games in Singapore, the track and field contingent won three golds, three silver medals and three bronzes on home soil - its best performance in more than a decade.