Tanglin Club appoints new president after man who held post quit last month amid controversial claims

Mr Chong Zhi Cheng was part of the club's general committee before he became president on Aug 22. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Tanglin Club has instated a new president after Mr Yeoh En Lai, who last held the post, resigned amid questions over his university qualifications.

Mr Chong Zhi Cheng, who served on the general committee while Mr Yeoh was president, won in a walkover at an election held during a special general meeting on Monday night (Aug 22) at the club.

Mr Henry Ling, who was the only other candidate in the May 30 election which Mr Yeoh won, had been expected to vie for the top spot.

But The Straits Times understands that he did not stand for the election on Monday because he believed it should not have been held.

The 157-year-old club, which counts some of Singapore's most prominent businessmen and professionals as members, elects a new president yearly.

The president, vice-president and honorary treasurer can serve a maximum of three one-year terms.

The club's 4,000 life and ordinary members can vote in the elections. This year was to have been Mr Yeoh's last one-year term as president.

The need for the election arose after the 48-year-old left the post on July 14 amid controversy over the academic credentials listed in his nomination papers for the 2021 and 2022 elections.

He did not identify the university he received his bachelor's degree from in both forms.

The club's general manager, Mr David Brightling, later allegedly received soft copies of certificates which purportedly belonged to Mr Yeoh.

They showed Mr Yeoh's name on a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Melbourne certificate and one from the Yale School of Management.

But further checks by a member and the club's general committee showed that he did not graduate from the University of Melbourne.

Mr Yeoh's LinkedIn profile stated he had studied in La Trobe University, which is in Melbourne, from 1994 to 1997.

On July 13, Mr Brightling made a police report and Mr Yeoh resigned the next day.

The nature of the police report is unclear but Mr Yeoh had said earlier that he will be transparent with the club when it conducts a disciplinary inquiry into the episode.

Some members are calling for Mr Yeoh En Lai's term of presidency to be voided. PHOTOS: YEOH EN LAI/INSTAGRAM, ALPHONSUS CHERN

Mr Chong was part of the club's general committee, serving as its convenor for membership and rules and co-convenor for sports, before he became president.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he has been the managing director of safety equipment distributor BIS International since April 2011.

He graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2006, majoring in Economics.

Club members who attended the special general meeting on Monday said about 30 members were physically present while about 50 others tuned in virtually.

The meeting was not open to the media.

They noted that Mr Chong had made a speech saying he will focus on governance and one of his top objectives is to "unite the membership".

Although a new president has been appointed, the saga appears far from over, members told ST.

On Aug 16, three past presidents of the club held a press conference calling for the club's general committee to apply to the High Court to decide whether a special general meeting should be held in the first place.

The three past presidents of the club - Mr Richard Eu, Mr Joseph Chew and Mr Sim Yong Chan - had last month also called for the May 30 election to be "treated as null and void" and for Mr Ling to be handed the role immediately.

At the press conference, the men said club members had expressed unhappiness over the calling of the special general meeting and the election, which eventually saw Mr Chong instated as president.

Mr Eu said there were three possibilities that could take place following Mr Yeoh's resignation - to hold an election to elect a new president, have Mr Ling take the position, or have the club's vice-president fill the vacancy.

ST has reached out to the club's general manager, Mr Brightling, for comment on Mr Yeoh's case.

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