Athletics

Singapore Athletics election to be called off

Singapore Athletics chief Ho makes surprise U-turn after consulting SNOC exco member Ng

A truce has been called at the eleventh hour in the ongoing saga within the Singapore Athletics (SA) management committee.

In a 45-minute media session yesterday, SA president Ho Mun Cheong said he intended to convince the affiliates to call off the national sports association's extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) at the Spex House this evening.

Up till Wednesday night, Ho was convinced the EOGM - where affiliates will be asked to dissolve the current management committee and elect new ones - will go ahead.

This, despite a letter from Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief executive Lim Teck Yin, who felt that the move was "unconstitutional".

However, the stunning turnaround happened after Ho and SA vice-president (competitions organising) Loh Chan Pew met with respected sports administrator Ng Ser Miang for over an hour yesterday morning.

Ng is a member of both the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) executive committee and International Olympic Committee.

Ho said: "We told him why we wanted this EOGM... and he told us to think about the country; whatever you do must be for the sake of the country.

"All the infighting is not good for track and field... and the SEA (South-east Asia) Games is coming.

"After listening to Mr Ng, the two of us thought it over... we (the SA management committee) can't even work now and have come to a standstill, so we will take Mr Ng's advice and ask the affiliates to withdraw (the notice) for the EOGM."

We are glad that they have agreed to find an amicable way forward. A joint statement from SportSG and SNOC, on the truce between the warring factions in Singapore Athletics

In accordance with the NSA's constitution, 10 affiliates signed off on a requisition two weeks ago to hold the EOGM.

The same affiliates will have to sign off again on the withdrawal, said Loh, with the draft already prepared when the duo met the press yesterday afternoon at the Kallang Leisure Park food court.

The EOGM came about due to a split within the SA management - with Ho leading one camp, and vice-president (training and selection) Dr G Balasekaran leading the other.

Both were slated to field teams for the snap poll this evening, but instead had a three-hour meeting with top SportSG officials last evening.

"It wasn't a shocker, we had been talking to SportSG. They called me, we had a rough hint of what was going to happen, but the president had to tell it himself," Balasekaran told The New Paper after the SportSG meeting.

"The EOGM wasn't called by us... and during our press conference, we challenged its legitimacy; it's off now and that is what we wanted.

"Now we go on, but we will still challenge things we believe in because we want good things for athletics."

A joint statement from SportSG and the SNOC last night read: "SportSG and SNOC are appreciative that the Singapore Athletics leadership had agreed to meet us. We are glad that they have agreed to find an amicable way forward."

The warring factions will have to resolve several major issues as Team Singapore gear up for the biennial SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.

One such issue is funding.
The association has been dipping into its reserves, as SportSG has been withholding government funding worth over $500,000, since last July.

Ho said yesterday that this is down to the SA management not being able to "resolve" the employment status of general manager Jaime Cheong.

Former women's national floorball coach Cheong was redesignated to her current role last July, having previously been SA's sports development and performance manager.

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