Athletics: Soh Rui Yong rejects Singapore Athletics' offer of mediation

Soh Rui Yong said that Singapore Athletics had not clarified their public comments on him, as requested in the Aug 7 letter, and had "temporarily suspended" engagements with the athlete. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong has rejected, via his lawyers, Singapore Athletics' (SA's) offer of a meeting to settle their dispute, that stems from him not being selected for the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.

Soh had served the national sports association a lawyer's letter on Aug 7 over the organisation's comments after the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) on Aug 1 rejected SA's nomination of Soh for the biennial Games.

On Aug 2, SA said in a statement that it accepted the SNOC's decision and that he had "on several occasions breached SA's Code of Conduct".

The national sports association added that it had attempted to counsel and reason with Soh "for his transgressions" as part of a "rehabilitation process".

SA, via Chandra Mohan K Nair of Tan Rajah & Cheah, replied to Soh's Aug 7 letter on Tuesday (Aug 13) urging both parties to "seriously consider mediating on this matter", and proposed a without prejudice meeting.

"Our clients are ready and willing to defend their position in this matter... Our clients' duty and approach... is to settle any dispute that may arise between an athlete and Singapore Athletic Association through mediation as a first resort," stated SA's letter.

However, Soh - represented by Clarence Lun of Foxwood LLC - replied on Wednesday rejecting the offer, saying that SA had not clarified their public comments on him, as requested in the Aug 7 letter, and had "temporarily suspended" engagements with the athlete.

Soh's Aug 14 letter added: "Until such time when our client is able to review your client's substantive response then will our client be able to consider if a meeting between parties, when set up, will be purposeful and fruitful."

Asked why he needed SA's clarification of their Aug 2 comments before considering mediation, Soh told The Straits Times: "If you accuse someone of something publicly, you either substantiate it with basis or apologise if you have no basis. You don't... hide behind closed doors and settle quietly after the damage is done. Mediation will come only after (SA executive director) Malik (Aljunied) and SA explain themselves."

In response, SA president Tang Weng Fei issued a statement saying: "SA has received and read the second legal letter from Rui Yong's lawyers, dated 14 Aug 2019, to SA.

"The matter is being dealt with by our solicitors although SA remains open to a constructive engagement."

In rejecting Soh's nomination on Aug 1, SNOC noted that "since the 2017 SEA Games, there have been numerous instances where Soh has displayed conduct that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to".

Soh has also served the SNOC a lawyer's letter, dated Aug 7, requesting that the organisation provide details of its standards of behaviour for athletes and where Soh had fallen short.

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