SINGAPORE - Lien Choong Luen will return to lead Singapore Athletics after he and his team were re-elected at its annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday.
His team trounced the challengers led by former SA vice-president Govindaraju Sinnappan 13-2. There was one abstention and one voided vote.
Lien, the general manager of ride-hailing firm Gojek, had been SA president for two years after being voted in by affiliates in September 2020. The term has since been expanded to four years.
His nine-man team (see sidebar) are largely the same, with only vice-presidents Gary Yeo and Joe Yap stepping down.
"We are thankful for the support from the local athletics fraternity over the past two years and we are grateful for the mandate given to us for the next four years." said Lien.
"Our work continues with renewed purpose starting today, and we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders.
"There are many exciting ideas to help us advance, we need partners to help us garner resources, and execute them well. In this regard, we want to work more closely with the clubs to do more together."
At the Black Box Auditorium, the 44-year-old thanked members of his former and current slate, as well as the opposition, and shared some plans to take the sport forward.
He emphasised that efforts behind the unsuccessful Singapore25 bid to host the World Athletics Championships in 2025 would not be wasted as discussions are still ongoing with the relevant authorities to collaborate on the staging of a top-tier event that would "kickstart not just athletics in Singapore, but South-east Asia".
The national track and field body is also keen to build on its improved showing at the SEA Games, and aims to put up a strong show when the biennial event returns to Singapore in 2029.
In May, Singapore's athletics team picked up 11 medals (one gold, three silvers and seven bronzes) in Hanoi, a drastic improvement on the paltry three-bronze showing at the 2019 edition in the Philippines.
Infrastructure will be a key focus. Plans are afoot to make the Home of Athletics (HOA), formerly known as the Kallang Practice Track, an all-weather venue and a more conducive environment for athletes and technical officials to train and compete. More regional training centres will be added to existing ones at HOA and the Singapore Sports School.
It also plans to work with clubs, schools and the relevant authorities to increase competition and talent identification opportunities for schoolchildren.
"We have 72 tracks in Singapore and 17 stadiums, we can actually run programmes in many different places," he explained. "We have so many schools, there's no reason we cannot have - from every school at least - some athletes competing because track and field is the most egalitarian sport.
"If your school is rich enough to have a track, great, but in Singapore, there is a track and field within two or three kilometres. We have no excuse and no reason not to get a much higher participation rate."
Encouraging the affiliates to do more, he said: "Let us know your ideas and what more we can do with you."
Friday's AGM and election, however, was not without drama.
Before the votes were cast, Lien made a clarification of a by-law and Clause 17.3 of the SA constitution, which had been questioned by Govindaraju in writing on Sept 2.
Part of the clause states: "The Board shall, within 30 days of an election or whenever a vacancy arises, select from among its members key office bearers: President, Vice-President (Training and Selection), Vice-President (Competitions), Vice-President (Finance and Partnerships), Honorary Secretary, and Honorary Treasurer."
Govindaraju took issue with how the nomination form required candidates to be pegged against their proposed board positions, and claimed this was "clearly a breach of the election process".
Lien asserted that as there is no limitation on the proposal of board position, there was no contravening of the constitution, and there is still scope for the roles to be changed from the ones listed on the nomination form. He also said this was the same procedure practised at the last SA election and those at some other national sports associations.
Nevertheless, he added that anyone who wishes to propose an amendment to the constitution may make the request 30 days before the next AGM. His opponent said he would consider his legal options.
Despite the election result, Govindaraju, a managing partner at law firm Raj Govin, said he would still be contributing to the local athletics scene.
The 69-year-old, who is also an international race walking judge, said: "I have been a technical official since 1983 and I have been involved since. I love sports and I will continue contributing."
Singapore Athletics' management committee
President: Lien Choong Luen
Vice-president (training and selection): Arthur Lin
Vice-president (competitions): Wong Mun Kong
Vice-president (finance and partnerships): Marinda Teo
Treasurer: Belinda Neo
Honorary secretary: Kelvin Ang
Assistant honorary secretary: Chen Siyuan
MC ordinary member: Jonathan Tan
MC ordinary member: Eugene Lim