Pereira still fired up for top job despite two setbacks

Edmond Pereira's team for the June 27 Singapore Athletics AGM is expected to include two vice-presidential candidates - C. Kunalan, local sprint legend and current VP (training and selection), and Melvin Tan, the former national men's relay coach.
Edmond Pereira's team for the June 27 Singapore Athletics AGM is expected to include two vice-presidential candidates - C. Kunalan, local sprint legend and current VP (training and selection), and Melvin Tan, the former national men's relay coach.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

After two failed previous attempts to be elected as the president of Singapore Athletics (SA), Edmond Pereira is back for a third try.

And the lawyer and Flash Athletic Club supremo has this message for the fraternity: "This is the last chance for Singapore track and field to have me. Previously, the officials didn't want me but the athletes are crying for a change now."

He threw his name in the hat for the presidency, after Tang Weng Fei announced yesterday that he is stepping down from the post when his term expires after SA's annual general meeting on June 27.

"I've got a lot of fire in my belly and I've got to set the track and field scene here ablaze," said the 66-year-old at an interview at the Edmond Pereira Law Corporation in Park Mall. "I'm here to fight for the athletes."

He had challenged Loh Lin Kok for the presidency in 1983 and 2000, but failed to unseat his fellow lawyer on both occasions.

Loh held the post from 1981 until 2004, when Tang took over the presidency. He returned to power again in 2006 before making way, again for Tang, in 2010.

PASSION PLAY

I've got a lot of fire in my belly and I've got to set the track and field scene here ablaze. I'm here to fight for the athletes.

EDMOND PEREIRA , 66-year-old lawyer, who challenged Loh Lin Kok twice but failed to land Singapore's top athletics post.

Even after two defeats, Pereira wants to give the top job one last shot at the urging of the community. He said: "Several athletes have approached me after hearing about Tang (wanting to step down), asking me to run for election. I can provide passion and have the right background to bring Singapore track and field forward."

With nominations for the SA elections closing next Monday, Pereira - who also sits on the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's high performance sports steering committee - is expected to lead a credible line-up to try and take his beloved sport forward.

Some of the names include former national men's relay coach Melvin Tan and local sprint legend and current vice-president (training and selection) C. Kunalan, with both contesting as VPs.

Former Olympic sprinter Poh Seng Song has put his hand up for the honorary secretary post.

Pereira had previously taken the association to court twice, over its treatment of former sprinter Haron Mundir and thrower Luan Wei - which some may point to as proof that he has something against the sport.

But with his team, Pereira, himself a former athlete, hopes to create a positive impact in SA.

He said: "Every one (of them) has a common vision to improve Singapore athletics and, with the blend of youth and experience on my team, we can grow athletics and bring it forward."

Yogaraj Panditurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Pereira still fired up for top job despite two setbacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe