SINGAPORE - It has been almost seven months since Manu Sawhney resigned abruptly as the chief executive officer of the Singapore Sports Hub, and SportsHub Private Limited (SHPL) - the consortium behind the $1.33-billion project - has yet to name his successor.
But sources told The Straits Times that acting CEO Oon Jin Teik, who joined the project as chief operating officer in 2014, is being seriously considered to take on the job permanently.
"I can't speculate about the board's decisions and I am not title conscious," the 54-year-old Singaporean told The Straits Times via text message on Thursday (Dec 7) from Sydney, where he is currently on a work trip.
"My focus is to get the project on track, build trust with all key stakeholders, grow the content, satisfy our hirers and provide the best experience for our patrons."
The former national swimmer made a similar statement in his interview with The Business Times on Monday.
In response to ST's queries, a Sports Hub spokesman said: "The board is considering the long-term position of the CEO and COO appointments and will provide relevant updates in due course."
Before he joined the Sports Hub, Oon was a senior executive for Hyflux from 2011 to 2014, and was the CEO of national sports agency Singapore Sports Council (SSC) - now Sport Singapore - from 2004 to 2010.
He is also currently the secretary-general of the Singapore Swimming Association, after being elected to the post in June 2014.
It is not known if the SHPL board is also considering other candidates for the top post.
The Sports Hub is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the Singapore Government and SHPL, a consortium of four equity partners.
The four companies are: Infrared Capital Partners, Dragages Singapore (the design and building contractor), C&W Services (the facility management partner), and Global Spectrum Asia (the venue operations partner).
If Oon is selected, he will be the first local-born Singaporean to helm the project, one of the largest sports infrastructure PPP projects in the world.
Frenchman Philippe Collin-Delavaud was the CEO from March 2011 to December 2015, while Sawhney was appointed in October 2015.
Members of the sports fraternity ST spoke to said they enjoyed a good working relationship with Oon at the helm.
"Jin Teik is an old friend; he was the CEO of the Singapore Sports Council when OCBC started our sponsorship for Singapore's first mass cycling event in 2009," said Koh Ching Ching, head of group corporate communications at OCBC Bank, the Sports Hub's Premier Founding Partner.
"We worked well together as two like-minded organisations wanting to use sports to forge strong community bonds.
"Our paths crossed again when Jin Teik joined the Singapore Sports Hub. That working relationship continued to be very good with Jin Teik's deep understanding of sports and the local scene."
Football Association of Singapore acting general secretary Yazeen Buhari has worked with Oon since 2007. He was an SSC employee when Oon was the CEO, and Singapore Athletics' general manager when Oon was the Sports Hub COO.
In his current capacity, the 39-year-old former Fifa referee has also been working with Oon and his staff to get more local football into the National Stadium.
Yazeen said: "He is a taskmaster who does not compromise on outcomes, yet he is also very approachable and knows the ground really well.
"He listens and is very hands on in finding solutions when issues arise.
"A has a good mix of sports DNA in him as well as business acumen for the role he is in now."
A former Sports Hub employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "Jin Teik is a stand-up person and, if this is true, I think it's a brilliant move.
"It is easy to work with a person who comes to the table with the kind of personality - he is inclusive and easy to work with - that he has, and I think he will be great for the Hub."
In response to queries from ST, StarHub said in a statement that it "has enjoyed working with Mr Oon since Day 1, in his capacity as chief operating officer and acting CEO of the Singapore Sports Hub. We look forward to working closer with Mr Oon, regardless of talk."