S’pore’s biggest motor association elects president after months of dispute

Mr Neo Tiam Ting was elected president of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association on Nov 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - The top job at Singapore’s largest motor association was filled on Wednesday evening, following two months of disputes and court challenges by contenders.

Mr Neo Tiam Ting, the director of car dealership ThinkOne, won a three-man contest to be president of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association (SVTA), garnering 82 out of 108 valid votes. The association, which was set up in 1972, has 372 members among parallel importers and used car traders.

Mr Arthur Ong, founder of Teck Wei Credit, received 25 votes, while Mr Raymond Tang, the managing director of Yong Lee Seng Motor, received one vote.

The election saga started in September when Mr Neo had forgotten to sign a consent form which candidates have to submit. He was disqualified from running by the association.

He challenged the disqualification in court, and on Sept 23, the High Court placed an injunction on the election until his action against SVTA was heard and ruled on.

Before that matter could be heard, Mr Ong sent an e-mail to all association members in October to protest against the inclusion of Mr Neo, who was president from 2011 to 2015, as a running candidate.

While Mr Neo and the association agreed to settle amicably during a pre-trial conference on Nov 4, Mr Tang refused to do so and took SVTA to court.

On Tuesday, the High Court threw out his application to stop the election.

Said Mr Neo after Wednesday’s election: “I’m relieved. It was tough as there were challenges that tried to stop me from contesting in this election.”

He said he plans to unite members. “If I’m doing things right, I’m confident they will support me,” he added.

Mr Ong declined to comment. Mr Tang did not attend the election and when contacted, also declined to comment.

In a letter sent to the association and seen by The Straits Times, Mr Tang said his stance was that the decision of the executive committee to hold the election was “not constitutional or permissible or valid”.

“Please note that I am reserving my full rights in my capacity as a member of the association and as a candidate for the 26th term presidential election,” he added.

Before the election on Wednesday, an unsigned letter was forwarded to all members at the 11th hour, asserting that the proceedings were “unconstitutional and invalid”. Some members said this was why the election turnout was smaller than in past elections, which usually drew about 200 members.

Mr Neo, whose term as president will be until May 2024, said he hopes for more open communication and discussion among committee members.

Asked about his plans, he said: “After seeing COE (certificate of entitlement) prices going sky-high today, I hope to appeal to the authorities to propose ways to soften prices.”

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