Athletics: Lawyer Edmond Pereira to take on Gojek's Lien for S'pore Athletics presidency

Edmond Pereira also ran for the presidency in 2016.
Edmond Pereira also ran for the presidency in 2016.PHOTO: SW STRATEGIES

SINGAPORE - The battle for Singapore Athletics' (SA) top post is hotting up after veteran lawyer Edmond Pereira announced on Sunday (Sept 6) that he is throwing his hat into the ring to take on the team led by Gojek general manager Lien Choong Luen.

Helmed by 70-year-old Pereira, who also ran for the presidency in 2016, TeamSGP Athletics' nine-members team includes familiar faces such as swimming legend Ang Peng Siong and lawyer S. Govindaraju, who are current SA's vice-presidents of training and selection, and competitions organising, respectively. Former national sprinter and 100m record holder U.K. Shyam and Tampines Rovers chairman Desmond Ong are also in the mix.

Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei has decided not to seek re-election at the association’s annual general meeting on Sept 25.

This is Pereira's fourth bid for the presidency.

He contested and lost twice to Loh Lin Kok in 1984 and 2000. Then in 2016, he was beaten to the top job by Ho Mun Cheong after losing the vote, 11-9.

"I last took part in 2016. It was a very closely contested elections," said Pereira on Sunday. "But what happened after was very sad for the sport."

In recent years, the national sports association has been plagued by a number of issues such as infighting, legal woes and the poor performances of its athletes.

At last year's SEA Games in the Philippines, its athletes failed to win a gold medal for the first time since 1991, and the infighting saw SA coming under fire from Sport Singapore.

That is why a key focus for Pereira's team is building trust with the various stakeholders in the fraternity.

"Trust needs to be earned which is why it is my hope that with the new faces on our team, we will have athletes share their grievances openly so that we can hear them and find solutions," he said.

While the team will share more details of their manifesto in a Zoom session with affiliates on Thursday, they aim to develop the sport through a five-point plan that will see them plan, engage, empower, professionalise and act. If elected, specific committees will also be set up to oversee various aspects of the sport such as marketing and communications, fundraising and sponsorship, and developing the sport for female athletes.

The team also want to make track and field clubs professional and create new pathways for athletes when they leave the sport.

Pereira said: "There is so much work to be done and also to look at from the previous administration, issues which we need to find closure with. The strength of our team is that we have people with different skill sets."

Former hurdler Ong added: "It is our collective dream to see the sport produce champions at all levels, and for me, it is an extension of my contribution to the sports fraternity in addition to my work at Tampines Rovers."

Pereira's team will face Lien's Team Ground Up, which includes former national sprinter Gary Yeo, in the SA elections.

TEAMSGP ATHLETICS ELECTION SLATE:

President: Edmond Pereira

Vice-president (training and selection): Ang Peng Siong

Vice-president (competitions organising): S. Govindaraju

Vice-president (finance and partnership): Gerald Kua

Honorary secretary: Nadine Yap

Honorary treasurer: Penh Huynh

Committee member: Desmond Ong

Committee member: Dr Robin Low

Committee member: U.K. Shyam