Athletics: Ex-national hurdler Tang Weng Fei is SA chief for third time after nine-man team gets voted in at election

Current Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong (left) shaking hands with newly minted SA president Tang Weng Fei after a biennial election on Oct 11, 2018. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
The biennial election saw Tang Weng Fei (right, with Kenny Lim, an elected member of the management committee) officially voted in for his third stint as Singapore Athletics president. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Singapore Athletics has been plagued with infighting over the last two years, but newly elected president Tang Weng Fei is confident his new team can work together to revive the sport.

Tang's nine-member team were officially voted in as the national sports association's new leaders for the next two years at its annual general meeting and biennial election on Thursday night (Oct 11) at the Singapore Sports Hub auditorium.

The 64-year-old is set for his third stint as president, taking over from Ho Mun Cheong.

The other eight elected members of the management committee (MC) are Ang Peng Siong, Malik Ajunied, Belinda Foo, Poh Seng Song, S. Govindaraju, Sheena Hu, Eric Song and Kenny Lim.

"We're glad all nine of us were elected to the management committee... there's a lot of work on hand to correct some of the issues from the past two years, so I'm looking forward to the challenge," said the former national hurdler, who was SA president for two stints - from 2004 to 2006 and 2010 to 2016.

"I think the second stint was a little bit more difficult because when I came in, I had no secretariat - now we have a very good secretariat headed by (general manager Yip) Ren Kai... The emphasis will still be on teamwork. It's a long task ahead and (there must) be collaboration between all of us."

Thursday's election, originally scheduled for June, was held differently from previous ballots due to changes to the SA constitution, approved by the Registry of Societies last month.

One key change involves reducing the size of the MC from 26 to 11, with nine elected members. The remaining two positions - general manager and athletes' commission representative - are decided separately.

The nine elected members will then choose among themselves the president, three vice-presidents (training and selection, competitions, finance and partnerships), honorary secretary, honorary treasurer and three MC members.

Nine of the 10 names submitted for the election were from Tang's team, with the last name being former SA statistician Peter Back.

The positions will be finalised on Friday, with Sport Singapore deputy director Malik (training and selection), former national sprinter Poh (finance) and SA's former chairman of officials Govindaraju (competitions) to be appointed as the three vice-presidents.

Hu will be the honorary treasurer, while Ang and Song will be honorary secretary and assistant honorary secretary respectively.

Said Tang: "Importantly, what we have to do is set a platform for the future development of our athletes not just for the next SEA Games (in 2019), but also the following SEA Games (in 2021) and Asian Games (in 2022). Once the platform is fixed, we'll be in good hands and I think track and field will progress regardless of who is president.

"I will look strictly into the policies that need to be changed because I know there's some code of conduct that we have to instil not only among athletes, coaches and officials, but also among the MC. Once you have strong core values, I think you'll have a strong association."

Affiliate members whom The Straits Times spoke to were confident that Tang and his team could unite the fraternity, with Institute of Technical Education Sports Council representative Ong Bok Liong noting that it was important to build trust within the fraternity.

He said: "When the whole team are voted in, it's easier to move things (forward), especially if everyone thinks with the same mind. The previous (leadership) team showed what could happen if they don't."

SA's former chairman of cross country and road running Ghana Segaran, who served three of his four terms on the MC with Tang, added: "With his whole team voted in, I think it (the infighting) will be a thing of the past.

"Hopefully, the committee can work hard on the ground, and address the concerns of the athletes."

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