Ho: It doesn’t look like we can iron out our differences
SA president considers quitting, suggests holding EOGM after SEA Games to decide leadership
It was a weary smile Ho Mun Cheong that wore as he walked out of the Singapore Sports Hub's Black Box auditorium last night.
The Singapore Athletics (SA) president was not running for office at the national sports association's annual general meeting, but he looked like a beaten man - or at least one resigned to his fate.
Ho told The New Paper: "I'm almost in my 70s, it's time to step down. All this infighting has stressed me out, I can't sleep at night.
"There's really no point to this, at my age I should spend my time relaxing."
He was speaking after a two-hour AGM that saw 12 members of SA's affiliates elected into its management committee, after their one-year term came to an end. SA's 14 key office bearers, like Ho, have a two-year term that will run out only next year.
"I said 'hello' to them earlier, and they didn't even respond," added the former national sprinter.
Ho was referring to the recent saga involving SA's coaches, officials and even athletes that has split the association, with Ho on one side and SA vice-president (training and selection) G Balasekaran on the other.
Recently, a photo of a WhatsApp message was leaked to the media, driving the wedge deeper into SA - with Shanti Pereira, her coach Margaret Oh and SA technical director Volker Herrmann also involved.
"We should have an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) after the August South-east Asia Games, and let the affiliates decide who they want to lead them. I think it's better this way," said Ho.
"It doesn't look like we can iron out our differences, let's not kid ourselves."
I’m almost in my 70s, it’s time to step down. All this infighting has stressed me out, I can’t sleep at night.Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong
While Ho hinted at the possibility of an entirely new team running, he also did not rule out putting together a team of his own, with people he is able to work with.
Shoulders drooping, he said: "It's sad, I asked them (Bala and Co) to come together to stand for elections, and we even managed to get elected.
"But now, it's come to this. We have our differences and they say I do things unilaterally.
"We should be helping the athletes and coaches, not giving them trouble, and I think that it is a good thing that SportSG (national sports governing body, Sport Singapore) and SNOC (Singapore National Olympic Council) have stepped in to take over the management of our athletes."
Last Friday, SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan sent a strongly worded statement to the media, declaring that the management of SA's SEA Games athletes will now come under the SNOC and SportSG, because of the "internal strife" at SA.
When TNP approached Bala last night, he declined to comment.
Ho said: "I wanted to give back to the sport, I thought it was my obligation to help the association. But since I can't unify the team, it's better that someone takes over.
"I want to leave the association with a team that is ready to take over."