Singapore Athletics and former V-P Poh settle dispute; 4-year ban from office withdrawn

A 2018 photo shows Singapore Athletics affiliates (from left) S Govindaraju, Eric Song; Col (NS) Syed Malik Aljunied; Ang Peng Siong, Tang Weng Fei, Poh Seng Song, Sheena Hu, Belinda Foo and Kenny Lim. ST FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE -Singapore Athletics (SA) has withdrawn its decision to ban its former vice-president of finance and partnership Poh Seng Song from holding any office within SA and/or its affiliates for two consecutive terms.

This also includes its reprimand and termination of the former national sprinter as an office holder in the track and field body.

In return, Poh will withdraw his application for judicial review that he commenced in the High Court against SA.

These come after the two sides reached an agreement in their months-long dispute following a mediation session on Thursday (Sept 17).

The squabble between both parties stemmed from a Board of Inquiry (BOI) convened in March to look into a leak of information from the MC's WhatsApp group chat.

In a letter dated Aug 4, the MC had informed Poh that it "unanimously agreed" with the findings of the BOI, which allegedly concluded he was "very likely" the one who had leaked a message. It also informed him of the ban, reprimand and termination.

Poh later said his lawyers sought to appeal against the BOI findings, and requested for an open appeal hearing.

Following the resolution of the matter, SA president Tang Weng Fei said in a statement: "We are grateful to Sport Singapore for assisting in the resolution of this dispute.

"The SA has always been open to the idea of taking all and sufficient steps to ensure good governance and where necessary, SA will revisit its decisions with a view to transparency and moving forward in promoting the sport.

"We are not in the business of coming to loggerheads with anyone and will always be open to the idea of ensuring fair play. While we strive hard to promote the sport, we also will defend all matters when there is a need to. But there is no question of us being unable to close out issues when we see it fit to do so."

In turn, Poh said: "I am pleased that parties have come to an amicable resolution and are able to move forward from here. I thank SA president Tang Weng Fei for graciously attending the mediation and understanding my side of the story."

Both parties thanked the mediator Chia Chor Leong and their respective counsel for their assistance and guidance.

In response to ST's queries on what led to the about-turn, Tang said: "SA took a decision based on what was before SA at that time. If you note, Seng Song did not take part in the SA machinery.

"At today's mediation, he was present and with the benefit of a healthy exchange, SA took the decision most suitable for both parties."

Tang did not comment on whether SA still held Poh culpable for the leak, citing the confidential nature of the mediation.

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