Athletics: War of words before elections

Singapore Athletics honorary secretary Ho Mun Cheong will be running for the sports body's presidency against Edmond Pereira.
Singapore Athletics honorary secretary Ho Mun Cheong will be running for the sports body's presidency against Edmond Pereira. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

At a press conference yesterday to introduce his 14-member team that will contest in next Monday's Singapore Athletics (SA) elections, the association's honorary secretary Ho Mun Cheong let fly at incumbent president Tang Weng Fei with strongly-worded allegations.

Top of the Ho team's list of accusations is that Tang is making key decisions without reaching a consensus with the executive committee.

Ho, 67, said: "It is saddening to note that the SA has been plagued by dictatorial and unilateral decision-making by the current president of SA in recent years."

Standing alongside Ho are current vice-president (competitions organising) and veteran coach Loh Chan Pew, 71, assistant honorary secretary Dr Govindasamy Balasekaran, 52, and vice-president (finance) R. Rajandran, 61.

The team felt that Tang's decision not to contest in the elections for a third term as president last week was made following a letter documenting the oil trader's alleged "persistent unilateral actions".

The letter was sent by registered mail to Tan Chuan-Jin, the president of the Singapore National Olympic Council, Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin as well as Tang on June 13, a day before the outgoing president announced he will not be seeking re-election.

  • TEAM HO

  • President: Ho Mun Cheong


    Vice-president (training & selection): G. 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: Margaret Oh


    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): A. Kannan

Rajandran refuted earlier claims from Tang that infighting within the SA executive committee was the reason he is stepping down.

The 62-year-old said: "We're quite clear that (the letter) was the trigger for his departure. The fact the president left the post the next day is testament to the veracity of the issues we have raised."

Speaking to The Straits Times, Tang rebutted the claims made by Ho's team and said his decision to step down had already been made months ago.

He also defended his decision-making process as fair, noting he had sought to consult his committee.

It is understood that within the committee, there were disagreements on addressing late payments by Spectrum Worldwide, the previous organiser of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, as well as SA employees' bonuses.

Tang also revealed cracks in the committee appeared during the appointment of Luis Cunha as the national head coach (sprints and hurdles) in late 2014, even though the appointment of the Portuguese was put through selection panel vote.

Tang argued: "Am I a dictator because I do not agree with you?

"When a committee reaches a final decision, we must have a united front."

Ho and Loh believe their familiarity with the association's 21 affiliates and the athletics fraternity would give them a strong position to be elected.

Loh also cited the athletics extravaganza in April and May, which brought together the Singapore Open, the National Inter-School Track and Field Championships and the Asia Masters Athletic Championships at the Sports Hub, as one of his contributions to the local scene.

Facing Edmond Pereira at the June 27 elections, Ho said: "I'm cautiously optimistic. Chan Pew and myself have been working on the ground and we are close to all the affiliates."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'War of words before elections'. Print Edition | Subscribe