Rugby: Spotlight on duo in race for SRU hot seat

Former national captain Terence Khoo has said that his focus will be on rebuilding local rugby at the grassroots level if he is elected president of the Singapore Rugby Union. His opponent in the election, Cheo Chai Hong, has based his campaign on st
Former national captain Terence Khoo has said that his focus will be on rebuilding local rugby at the grassroots level if he is elected president of the Singapore Rugby Union. His opponent in the election, Cheo Chai Hong, has based his campaign on strong corporate governance and running a tight ship.ST FILE PHOTO
Cheo Chai Hong.
Cheo Chai Hong.ST FILE PHOTO
Terence Khoo.
Terence Khoo.ST FILE PHOTO

Ex-skipper Khoo, hon sec Cheo to contest top SRU post as polls see 5 spots up for grabs

Tomorrow's Singapore Rugby Union's (SRU) election will be a watershed, with multiple leadership positions set to change hands for the first time since 2006.

A total of five positions will be up for grabs, but all eyes will be on the contest for the presidency between former national captain Terence Khoo and incumbent SRU honorary secretary Cheo Chai Hong.

Khoo, 46, said rebuilding local rugby at the grassroots level would be his top priority if elected.

"My principal interest is in making sure young players progress on after leaving school to the age-group and senior club levels, and then to the national team," he said.

He added that revitalising the club scene was another key target.

"We've also lost some clubs recently - there are only five in the first division now," he said.

"Another goal is for there to be more teams, more games in the local club scene."

KEEP IT TIGHT

We need to continue to ensure that there are proper procedures and systems in place in the event something goes awry.

CHEO CHAI HONG, SRU honorary secretary, on how there should be stronger corporate governance to prevent crimes like embezzlement.

Former banker Cheo, 64, wants to focus on the SRU's corporate governance and running a tight ship.

He recalled the fallout in 2006 when former SRU employee Sean Lee allegedly embezzled $1.2 million of the association's funds.

The scandal precipitated a mass clear-out of the SRU's then management committee.

"That must never happen again. It's easy to lapse into complacency when things are going all right," said Cheo, who was part of the new 11-man committee that took charge in 2006, under current SRU president Low Teo Ping.

"We need to continue to ensure that there are proper procedures and systems in place in the event something goes awry."

Both men were optimistic about their chances of succeeding incumbent Low, 72, the SRU's president for 11 years.

Said Cheo, who nearly ran against Low for the presidency in 2006: "Having been involved (in the SRU) for 11 years, I think I have a pretty good awareness and understanding of how to run an NSA (national sports association)."

Khoo has done his rounds with the clubs here, and said he has "got the sense that they're grateful for what Teo Ping has done".

"(But) they're also looking to see change in key areas, and they've been extremely receptive to what I have had to say," said the managing director of sports marketing company Enterprise Sports Group.

"So I'm quietly confident that I can put up a strong challenge."

The SRU election will also see contests for the vice-president and honorary treasurer positions, between Jonathan Leow and Martin Williams, and Jonathan Hui and Lim Tuck Beng respectively.

Shafiq Zulazmi is the only candidate for the assistant honorary secretary post, while Calven Denis Bland is likewise unchallenged for a spot on the SRU's management committee.

The SRU has 11 elected committee members, each serving a two-year term.

The other positions will come up for election next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Spotlight on duo in fight for hot seat'. Print Edition | Subscribe