Taekwondo: STF and ex-national coach Wong reach settlement over defamation suit

Former national taekwondo coach Wong Liang Ming says she is relieved to be able to put this incident behind her. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former national taekwondo coach Wong Liang Ming and the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) have reached a settlement in their dispute over Wong's claims that the latter had defamed her.

A joint statement released on the STF's website on Tuesday (Nov 23) said the parties have arrived at an "amicable resolution" to the case "through a series of mediation, negotiation and discussion" and that they "hope to be able to move on for the betterment of taekwondo".

It added that the terms of the settlement "remain strictly confidential".

The STF also acknowledged Wong's contributions to the sport in its statement, adding that its board "wishes Ms Wong well in her future endeavours and affirms STF's commitment and resolve to focus on sport development and pursuit of sports excellence".

Wong was relieved to be able to put this incident behind her and the 58-year-old said her priority now is to spend time with her family.

Thanking her counsel Clarence Lun of Fervent Chambers and those who have stood by her, Wong said: "It's been a long process of numerous mediation and negotiations; it's been a pretty stressful period for me and my family.

"Now, I can move on and do many other things."

Crediting Wong for her "steely determination and resolve", Lun said in a statement: "We at Fervent Chambers congratulate Ms Wong on the settlement and wish her well as Ms Wong moves on in life with her family after this episode."

The settlement comes after Wong's unsuccessful bid to overturn a decision to dismiss her application for leave for judicial review and apply for a quashing order against STF's enforcement of a suspension from governing body World Taekwondo (WT) in May.

Her appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, which meant that the four-time SEA Games champion and former STF secretary-general remained barred from taekwondo-related activities worldwide under WT's jurisdiction.

She was also ordered to pay $25,000 in costs, inclusive of disbursements.

The legal tussle between Wong and the STF follows a series of incidents involving the latter and WT that started over two years earlier.

In May 2019, WT and the Singapore National Olympic Council suspended the STF after it was charged with violating the world body's rules on good governance and a failure to receive recognition from the appropriate national Olympic committee.

Three months later, WT informed Wong of its charge against her for violating two articles of its ethics code and a preliminary suspension, pending determination by a tribunal.

However, she sent legal letters to the STF and WT informing the latter that she would "cease to participate" in the Seoul-based world body's hearings as it had rejected her request for a three-man tribunal, instead deciding on a one-man tribunal.

The global body in January last year then stated that she had been banned for "grave misconduct" and barred her from taekwondo-related activities worldwide.

STF later announced the suspension on its website in May. Neither the STF nor WT stated the length of the suspension.

On Sept 18 last year, Wong filed a defamation suit against STF over the announcements that were made about her suspension.

The STF then filed a counterclaim of defamation of its own, over statements that Wong made in a Facebook post five days later.

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