Athletics: Ho says neutral trio likely to conduct inquiry

Mr Ho Mun Cheong at the Singapore Athletics annual general meeting, on June 27, 2017.
Mr Ho Mun Cheong at the Singapore Athletics annual general meeting, on June 27, 2017.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The board of inquiry (BOI) that will be convened to investigate a WhatsApp conversation involving top Singapore Athletics (SA) officials is likely to comprise three neutral individuals, including one with knowledge of legal matters, said SA president Ho Mun Cheong yesterday.

Leaked photos of the conversation in question had showed SA vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran apparently instructing SA staff to collect evidence, such that Ho would have to take disciplinary action against local coaches Margaret Oh (sprint) and David Yeo (pole vault).

Ho had proposed forming an independent BOI to investigate the matter, and told The Straits Times after SA's annual general meeting (AGM) at the Singapore Sports Hub Black Box that he is seeking "respected members in the sports fraternity" to be on the panel.

"We'll start looking (for such individuals) after this AGM," said Ho, adding he will consult some of SA's affiliates and officials from other national sports associations before approaching any possible candidate.

Yesterday's AGM came on the back of a stormy week, with revelations of SA's management committee divided and publicly feuding less than two months before the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Yet it was a muted affair as 12 of SA's 20 affiliates were voted into the management committee.

While Ho made no direct reference to the negativity that has plagued the association in his opening address, he called for differences to be put aside so that the focus could be directed at the Aug 19-30 SEA Games.

"(This is) to ensure that the coaches and athletes focus on their training," he added. "If things still cannot be resolved after the SEA Games, then we will consider what the next step should be. In the meantime, let us all concentrate on the SEA Games and leave our differences aside."

The "next step", should SA officials fail to reconcile their differences after the SEA Games, would be to call for an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) to elect new leaders, said Ho.

He said: "If the conflict cannot be resolved, it's better to call for an EOGM and have fresh elections to let our affiliates choose a new team."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Ho says neutral trio likely to conduct WhatsApp inquiry'. Print Edition | Subscribe