STF saga offers lessons on governance

A view of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation during the extraordinary general meeting on May 19, 2019.
A view of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation during the extraordinary general meeting on May 19, 2019.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) collapsed because of a lack of checks and balances, excessive power concentrated in a few individuals and weak regulatory oversight.

Vagueness in the STF's Constitution and non-enforcement of rules exacerbated the problems.

I highlighted the troubles in the old STF management in a Forum letter last year (Singapore Taekwondo Federation resignations are sign of trouble, Oct 30, 2018).

After my letter was published, I received threats from known and anonymous sources.

I was accused by the old STF management of spreading "fake news", and received legal letters falsely accusing me of defamation.

The organisation demanded that I publicly apologise and retract my comments, which I refused.

The above points to an abuse of power and may prevent anyone who wishes to speak up from using his real identity.

Such abuse cases create an unhealthy climate of fear, which breeds an illusion of invincibility for anyone in power.

Any organisation must always put collective interests ahead of individual interests.

Hopefully, this saga will be a case study in highlighting the elements essential for good governance.

Daniel Tay Xiong Sheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2019, with the headline 'STF saga offers lessons on governance'. Print Edition | Subscribe