The Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) says it will accept the Singapore Shooting Association's (SSA) offer to be reinstated as a constituent ordinary member of the national shooting body, but with a caveat.
In a statement posted on its website, it said: "SRA accepts SSA's offer to reinstate SRA as an Ordinary Member of the SSA.
"Given SRA's long history in shooting in Singapore, SRA remains committed to the promotion of the sport of shooting and remains willing to work with like-minded stakeholders."
It had been expelled by the SSA after an extraordinary meeting (EGM) in December 2016. Then, it was accused of not having "the best interest of the shooting fraternity at heart".
But last Saturday, the national body, comprising three voting members - the Singapore Gun Club, Safra Shooting Club and Sporting Shooter's Federation - voted to reinstate the SRA following another EGM.
"SSA felt that the loss of shooting privileges in NSC and ownership of their firearms was too heavy a price for SRA members to bear as the dispute was between the managements of SSA and SRA, and not between SSA and SRA members," the national sports association said in its statement explaining the reinstatement offer for SRA.
SRA's reinstatement means that its members will be able to use the facilities at the National Shooting Centre (NSC) at Old Choa Chu Kang Road when it reopens soon following the implementation of enhanced security measures. At present, only national athletes are allowed to use the facility.
The Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) took the Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) to the High Court looking to recover the SRA-managed armoury space at the National Shooting Centre (NSC) in Choa Chu Kang - where both parties are based - as it wanted to upgrade the premises. But the suit was dropped by the SSA, as was an SRA counter-claim for alleged breach of agreement.
The SRA sues SSA for losses arising from two flooding incidents in December 2014 and May 2015, seeking more than $450,000 in damages.
The court ruled in November that the SSA was liable to SRA for $4,708 in relation to the second flood, and not liable for the first. The SRA was ordered to pay $85,600 in costs and is "currently considering the matter further".
The court awarded SRA $30,000 in damages for SSA president Michael Vaz's defamatory remarks, made after the NSC was closed following a police probe. Vaz has appealed against the decision.
Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau dismissed SSA's claim for reimbursement from SRA for the costs of demolishing what the SSA considered "illegal structures" the latter built at the NSC.
The judge also found that Vaz, SSA honorary secretary Yap Beng Hui, and treasurer Patrick Chen had "wrongfully conspired to injure" the SRA by procuring a resolution to suspend the latter's rights. The trio were ordered to pay damages equivalent to the legal fees and expenses incurred by SRA in investigating and responding to the conspiracy.
The trio have filed an appeal.
The SRA and Vaz will meet in court later this month, over an alleged breach of contract on the latter's part.
With SSA currently the only authority allowed to endorse applications for licences to possess guns - and will do so for only its constituent clubs - the move means SRA members will now be able to apply for permits to own firearms.
SSA also noted that all unlicensed guns will be removed from the facility upon its reopening, which could take place as early as next month.
When contacted by The Straits Times, SRA chairman Eng Fook Hoong pointed to a 2,449-word statement posted on the SRA's website on Tuesday on the SSA offer, as well as updates on its ongoing legal battles with the national body.
The SRA acknowledged that the SSA had written to the rifle body last Thursday with an offer for reinstatement, but with two conditions:
• SRA pays the annual membership fee, and
• That "no new legal actions be initiated by the SRA and SSA against each other (including its officers and employees) for actions prior to 1 Sept 2018".
The SRA statement added that the organisation "will be making payment" of the requisite annual membership fee of $5,000 to the SSA, and "SRA's and its members' rights and privileges as an Ordinary Member of the SSA will be reinstated with immediate effect".
However, SRA is of the view that SSA's Sept 1 statement - posted on its website and making no mention of the "no new legal action" clause - "superseded" the Aug 30 letter, and "reserves all its rights in relation to challenging the validity of the Expulsion Resolution and pursuing its losses arising from the SSA's Expulsion Resolution at an appropriate juncture".
The feud between the two parties involved four lawsuits, with the last yet to be heard before the courts (see box).
SSA president Michael Vaz told ST that the legal entanglement with SRA had cost the national body "about half a million dollars in legal fees".
On SRA's response, he told ST that the SSA was likely to hold a council meeting on Sunday to discuss the issue.
He added: "I will be proposing (at the meeting) that we continue with the reinstatement, although it would be a council decision.
"We don't want some 400 weapons (belonging to SRA members) to be confiscated, and for the SRA members to be affected."
Yesterday, chief of Singapore Sports Institute Toh Boon Yi revealed that national sports authority Sport Singapore had arranged for the SSA and SRA to meet on Aug 30 with the intent of resolving issues to move forward.
"We strongly urge all parties to put their differences aside and work towards the common good for the sport and their members. We hope the passion to develop the sport prevails in their actions."