Athletics: Shadow cast over polls

From left: Statistician Tan Yew Ling, honorary treasurer Alvin Phua, vice-presidential candidate Ow Kok Meng, vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran, vice-presidential candidate Chan Chee Wei, vice-president (finance) R. Raja
From left: Statistician Tan Yew Ling, honorary treasurer Alvin Phua, vice-presidential candidate Ow Kok Meng, vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran, vice-presidential candidate Chan Chee Wei, vice-president (finance) R. Rajandran, honorary assistant secretary Tan Ming Jen, and honorary secretary Alexander Charles Louis.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Balasekaran, SportSG deem S'pore Athletics EOGM unconstitutional; chief Ho disagrees

It was meant to undo the gridlock that is hobbling Singapore Athletics, but the bid to bring in new leaders for track and field could reach an impasse too.

This after Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the challengers to SA president Ho Mun Cheong deemed that the procedures that led to the calling of an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EOGM) to facilitate an election of a new management committee (MC) were unconstitutional.

SA vice-president Govindasamy Balasekaran (training and selection) is leading a team of seven in tomorrow's polls.

After a press conference at the Singapore Sports Hub, SAA honorary secretary Alexander Charles Louis told The Straits Times (ST) that Balasekaran's team, with whom he is running in the EOGM, took issue with two motions in the notice calling for the meeting.

The first objection referred to the management committee calling for the EOGM and the second referred to the dissolution of the committee under Rule 11 (k) of SA's constitution. Article 11 (k) addresses the conditions under which a member of the management committee may be removed from office.

But Louis, a lawyer, 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."

He then warned: "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.

Yesterday, SportSG issued a statement signed by its chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin, which said: "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 ST contacted Ho, he stressed that all rules had been adhered to and that he had received the consent of 10 affiliates.

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

Ho noted that he had issued a reply to SportSG and Balasekaran, in which he 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 The Straits Times: "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 snap polls, barely 10 months after the last SA election in June 2016, was caused by repeated disagreements within the MC over a raft of issues.

The exco comprises Ho, three vice-presidents - Balasekaran, Loh Chan Pew and R. Rajandran - 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Shadow cast over polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe