Tanglin Club embroiled in saga involving ex-president's university qualifications

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

SINGAPORE - Two weeks after the president of the Tanglin Club resigned amid questions about his university qualifications, the matter is still boiling over.

Some members are calling for Mr Yeoh En Lai's term of presidency to be voided and for the other candidate in the election for club president to be automatically instated.

Mr Yeoh, 48, meanwhile, has hired Senior Counsel Gregory Vijayendran to represent him, he told The Straits Times on Thursday (July 28).

Noting that the club will be conducting a disciplinary inquiry into this episode, Mr Yeoh said: "I will be truthful, transparent and cooperate fully with the process.

"To that end, I have also appointed legal counsel to advise me on this episode and the legal consequences of the same."

On May 30, Mr Yeoh was elected as president of the 157-year-old club, which counts some of Singapore's most prominent businessmen and professionals as members.

This was to have been Mr Yeoh's third and final term as president.

He beat the only other candidate, Mr Henry Ling, who had contested the elections to be president previously without success.

The club elects a new president yearly, and 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.

On July 14, Mr Yeoh, a former journalist who went into banking and is now with a global bank, resigned as president.

He told ST that in his resignation letter, which he sent via e-mail, he explained to the general committee that he had "made mistakes, and attempted to mask over them", but did not elaborate further.

In his e-mail to them, he added that these were mistakes "from a quarter century ago but these are mistakes that have been resurfaced in the course of my tenure, and it is my belief that they will not go away".

He also said in the same e-mail that there had been police reports filed against him over the past few months, “tips” given to the media and his employer was also contacted over allegations of misconduct. Mr Yeoh said in the e-mail that he has since been diagnosed with vestibular disorder.

The matter centres on whether Mr Yeoh had graduated from the University of Melbourne.

ST understands that the events that led to Mr Yeoh's resignation began on May 12 when some concerns were raised with the club's general manager, Mr David Brightling.

Questions were raised about what Mr Yeoh had declared as his academic and professional qualifications in his nomination papers for the club's presidency elections in 2021 and 2022.

Checks by ST showed that in his 2021 form, Mr Yeoh had stated, among other things, "BA (Politics)", and "Yale School of Business (GFC Mgmt online)", under his academic or professional qualifications.

He did not identify the university he got his bachelor's degree from.

In his 2022 form, Mr Yeoh wrote "Bachelor of Arts (Political Science), Melbourne", and "Learning from the Global Financial Crisis (Yale School of Management)", among other things.

Mr Brightling later allegedly received soft copies of Mr Yeoh's credentials.

They purportedly showed Mr Yeoh has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Melbourne and a certificate 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 Brightling made a police report on July 13 and Mr Yeoh resigned the next day.

The nature of the police report is unclear.

Up till recently, Mr Yeoh's LinkedIn profile stated only that he had graduated from St Paul's Institution in Seremban, Malaysia.

It was later updated to say he had studied in La Trobe University, which is in Melbourne, from 1994 to 1997.

ST asked Mr Yeoh why he had not named the specific university he got his bachelor's degree from in the 2021 and 2022 nomination papers.

He did not want to comment on this, saying that the matter was before his counsel.

But he said: "I have never misrepresented or misstated my credentials to any of my present or past employers and all background checks on me were cleared."

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

In the wake of Mr Yeoh's resignation, club members have circulated messages to say they will argue for a no-confidence vote should Mr Ling be instated as president.

ST has approached Mr Ling and Mr Brightling for comment.

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