Athletes, coaches and lawyers for Safe Sport Commission's first disciplinary panel

National para-powerlifter Nur Aini Yasli is among the athletes in the panel. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - The Safe Sport Commission on Friday announced its first disciplinary panel to handle moderate to severe cases of misconduct for member organisations under the Safe Sport Programme.

The panel comprises 18 members and is led by senior counsel Molly Lim, who has spent 39 years in legal practice and will appoint disciplinary and appeals committees for each hearing.

Aside from five legal members, the panel comprises current and former athletes, sports officials and coaches, including former netballer Pearline Chan, ex-national hockey player Melanie Martens, Koh Jian Ying (water polo), Nur Aini Yasli (para-powerlifting) and former sailing coach Nicholas Paul De Cruz.

The members were appointed by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for a two-year term.

Former water polo captain Koh, who is a legal counsel at Avnet Asia, wants to use the skills and experience from his sports and professional careers to help create a safe sporting environment.

Mr Edwin Tong said the creation of the panel presents "an independent channel for resolution to ensure cases will be handled fairly".

He added: "Everyone should be able to participate in sports in a safe space, free from harassment and abuse.

"We will continue working with the community to build a home where all of us can enjoy sport and share great sporting moments together."

When a report against an individual who is under the governance of a member organisation of the Safe Sport Programme is received, the commission will assess if a breach of the Unified Code has occurred and commence formal investigations where appropriate.

The code was launched last November to provide the sporting community with clear guidelines on what constitutes inappropriate behaviour.

Moderate to severe cases will be referred to the disciplinary panel and criminal offences will also be referred to the police.

Respondents will be heard by the panel, who will determine the severity of the misconduct based on the degree of culpability and harm caused and consider the aggravating and mitigating factors before deciding the appropriate measures or sanctions.

For misconduct classified as low severity, the commission will work with member organisations to provide support to affected parties, implement appropriate measures to address concerns raised or determine if any other appropriate organisation-level measures could be taken.

Lim, who is in her 60s, said the panel plays a key role in "assessing allegations, establishing facts and taking appropriate actions where necessary".

She added: "All of us know the values of sport and how it contributes to better living. Safe Sport is an initiative that allows our people to engage and enjoy sports without any fear of abuse.

"It is important that all affected parties are given a fair hearing while considering the bearing on the people involved and the sport community at large."

Aini, who competed at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, said: “Sport is a vehicle for inclusion and empowerment. It is hence reassuring to have a proper framework in place so that everyone, regardless of gender or ability, can enjoy sports in a safe and conducive environment.”

Athlete abuse has been in the spotlight in recent years, especially after the release of Netflix documentary Athlete A in June 2020 on former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual assault of young athletes.

Locally, former Singaporean figure skater Yu Shuran and ex-national gymnast Eileen Chai spoke out about their harrowing experiences while training in China.

More recently, The Straits Times reported on July 31 that a coach at a private football academy here was sacked after he allegedly sent a lewd photograph over WhatsApp to two female teenage players under his charge.

The Safe Sport Commission, a body set up by national agency Sport Singapore in partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Singapore Police Force and Ministry of Education, was launched in 2019 after the issue of harassment in sport came to the fore. It serves to look into preventive measures to safeguard athletes, coaches and other participants.

Safe Sport Disciplinary Panel

Legal members

  • Molly Lim (chair, senior counsel)
  • Paul Sandosham (partner, Clifford Chance Asia)
  • Spring Tan (partner, Withers KhattarWong LLP)
  • Just Wang (lead counsel, IP and Content at Meta)
  • Edward Tiong (partner, Allen & Gledhill)

Ordinary members

  • Ng Mui Kim (former police superintendent)
  • Koh Jian Ying (national water polo player and legal counsel, Avnet Asia)
  • P Sivakumar (Asian Football Confederation and Fifa match commissioner)
  • Melanie Martens (former national hockey player)
  • Pearline Chan (former national netball captain)
  • Ruth Ng (former national fencer)
  • Nicholas Paul De Cruz (former sailing coach)
  • Desmond Tong (former para athlete - archery, athletics)
  • Natalie Tan (former national equestrienne)
  • Adnan Omar (head of department of physical education and co-curricular activities, Sin Ming Primary School)
  • Nur Aini Yasli (national para powerlifter)
  • Taufeek Ramlan (PE teacher, Changkat Primary)
  • Qua Bi Qi (former national runner)

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