Motor association elections to go on as court throws out latest attempt to stop polls

The 370-member trade body will elect a president on Nov 23. PHOTO: SINGAPORE VEHICLE TRADERS ASSOCIATION/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - After two months of dispute among candidates vying for the top job at Singapore’s largest motor association, the High Court has thrown out the latest application to stop the polls.

And the 370-member trade body will elect a president on Nov 23.

At the High Court on Tuesday, Assistant Registrar Randeep Singh Koonar dismissed an application by Mr Raymond Tang, one of three candidates for presidency of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association (SVTA).

The judge also ordered Mr Tang to pay $11,000 in cost to SVTA.

Representing SVTA were lawyers Chia Boon Teck and Khor Zhen Yan from Chia Wong Chambers.

The saga started in September when Mr Neo Tiam Ting, one of the presidential candidates, challenged a move by the association to disqualify him from the elections because he had forgotten to sign a consent form.

He took the matter to the State Courts and the matter moved to the High Court, which on Sept 23 placed the injunction on the election until Mr Neo’s action against SVTA for unlawful disqualification was heard and ruled on.

Before that matter could be heard, Mr Arthur Ong, another candidate for the presidency, sent an e-mail to all association members on Oct 5 to protest the inclusion of Mr Neo as a running candidate, saying such a move was unconstitutional.

He threatened legal action if he was allowed to stand.

On Nov 4, Mr Neo and SVTA agreed to settle amicably during a pre-trial conference but Mr Tang, a second defendant in the case, refused to do so. He took SVTA to court.

Mr Tang’s case was heard in court on Tuesday morning. The hearing broke for lunch and reconvened in the afternoon. In the end, the judge ruled in favour of the association.

Mr Chia, a long-time lawyer for SVTA, said Mr Neo and SVTA had sought to resolve their dispute amicably but Mr Tang applied to the court to disallow the amicable settlement. 

“After hearing arguments from both sides, the court dismissed Mr Tang’s application and ordered him to pay costs of $11,000 to SVTA,” Mr Chia said. “The court dismissed Mr Tang’s application on the basis that it was both procedurally flawed and substantively unmeritorious.”

Mr Tang can appeal. He and his lawyers could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Mr Raymond Tang, one of the three candidates for presidency of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association this year. PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES FILE

Mr Neo, who is at the centre of the controversy, said he was “relieved”.

“I’m also happy. From day one, a few parties have been trying to find fault with my application. But now the court has given me the chance to go for elections,” he said.

ST tried to reach out to SVTA’s past president Eddie Loo for comment but he was not contactable.

Already delayed for a year by the Covid-19 pandemic, SVTA’s biennial election will proceed on Nov 23 at the Trade Association Hub in Jurong Town Hall Road at 6pm.

Like several veteran SVTA members, Mr Neo Nam Heng, a past president of the association, had observed the saga on the sidelines with dismay.

“Justice has finally prevailed,” he said on Tuesday.

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