Parties disagree on whether Singapore Athletics' call for EOGM is unconstitutional

SINGAPORE - The prospect of a Singapore Athletics (SA) election taking place this week was cast in doubt on Wednesday (May 3).

This follows a complaint by SA vice-president Govindasamy Balasekaran (training and selection) and his team, who are challenging president Ho Mun Cheong in Friday's (May 5) polls.

During a press conference at the Singapore Sports Hub, Balasekaran and his seven-member team claimed that the procedures that have led to the calling of the EOGM, where the SA's 20 affiliate members will elect the association's new management committee (MC), were unconstitutional.

Speaking to The Straits Times after the press conference, current SAA honorary secretary Alexander Charles Louis, who is on Balasekaran's team, took issue with two points in the Notice calling for the EOGM, which was distributed to affiliates two weeks ago.

In Point 1 (A), the Notice said: "Pursuant to Rule 7 (c) of the Constitution, the Management Committee has called for an Extra-Ordinary Meeting and the Honorary Secretary has given not less than fourteen (14) calendar days' written notice of this meeting, specifying the resolution(s) to be passed at this meeting (the Notice)."

In Point 2 (B), it adds "that further, all Committee Members who are removed from office by this resolution shall further be deemed removed under Rule 11 (k) of the Constitution."

But Louis contended: "There was never a management committee meeting convened for the purpose of discussing an EOGM.

"If you want to convene an EOGM to get rid of the members, you must first hold a board of inquiry to say that all of us have violated Article 11 (k) of the Constitution."

Article 11 (k) addresses the conditions under which a member of the MC may be removed from office.

Louis added: "If the president decides to proceed with the EOGM, our next step will be to take an application to court to nullify the EOGM, simply because it is unconstitutional."

He added that he had raised his objections with national sports agency Sport Singapore.

SportSG looked into the matter and in a written statement issued on Wednesday afternoon and signed by its chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin, was in agreement.

The letter said: "We refer to the notice for the Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on 5 May 2017. We have received information that there are concerns amongst some members that some of the motions being proposed in the said Notice are unconstitutional.

"We have looked into these concerns and agree that the proposed motions are unconstitutional. We urge the management committee to take all necessary steps to ensure that all motions being proposed and passed at the EGM will be in compliance with the constitution of the SAA."

It is understood though, that SportSG does not have the power to cancel the SA election.

When The Straits Times contacted Ho, he was non-plussed and stressed that all rules had been adhered to and that he had received the consent of 10 affiliates.

Under Rule 7 (c) of the Constitution , it states that "the Management Committee may at any time and whenever it thinks fit call for an Extraordinary General Meeting and shall do so forthwith upon the signed requisition of ten (10) Affiliated Members".

In his reply to SportSG and Balasekaran, Ho wrote: "In your letter, you have merely asserted that the Motions are unconstitutional without stating the reasons as to why they are unconstitutional.

"Our legal advisers have advised that the requisition of EOGM and the Motions proposed are in compliance with the SAA's Constitution.

"Please be assured that the SAA will ensure that the conduct of the EOGM and Motions, if passed by the General Meeting this Friday, are in compliance with the SAA's Constitution."

He told ST: "According to our Constitution, as long as you have 10 affiliates... They signed and agreed in the requisition for EOGM."

He insisted that the election would proceed.

He added: "It's fair and square, the better team will win. If you're confident let the affiliates vote and the better team will win. It doesn't mean I'll win, if I lose fair and square I'll accept it."

The call for a snap poll, barely 10 months after the last SA election in June 2016, was caused by repeated disagreements over a raft of issues, causing conflict within the seven-member executive committee.

The current exco comprises Ho, three vice-presidents - Balasekaran, Loh Chan Pew and R. Rajendran - as well as honorary secretary Louis, honorary assistant secretary Tan Ming Jen and honorary treasurer Alvin Phua.

Ho and his vice-president (competitions organising) Loh have assembled a 14-member side for the election.

The other members of the exco are in Balasekaran's camp.