I CAN TAKE THE BLAME, BUT...
Former Singapore badminton singles coach Luan Ching is an unhappy man.
The 55-year-old was abruptly removed from his post, along with doubles coach Yoo Yong Sung, after the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) conducted an internal review following poor performances by its shuttlers at last year's Li-Ning Singapore Open. The players also did poorly at the South-east Asia Games in December.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Luan lamented: "Why was (SBA) so anxious to get rid of me? What have I done wrong to deserve this?"
The former China national player and All- England men's singles champion explained that he was called into a meeting with SBA's top brass, including chief executive officer, Ronnie Lim, hours before the media conference announcing the changes on Jan 8.
Luan, who was halfway through his second two-year contract, was informed of the termination and accepted the decision verbally, but was aggrieved that the news was made public that afternoon even before he received the termination papers.
He said: "Someone had to take responsibility (for the team's poor results last year) and, since my boss asked me to take that burden, I will do it.
"But the team were still having pre-season training then (at the time of media conference) and there was no reason to rush the announcement.
"I could understand it if it was announced internally so that the team had time to digest the news, but they couldn't even wait till the paperwork and the handover were completed before announcing it, which should be the normal procedure."
When contacted yesterday, SBA CEO Lim said: "We communicated to him (Luan) that morning (Jan 8) that we would have a press conference that very afternoon and asked him if he had any specific requests in what we would say then, and he said no.
"Also, he is still serving his three-month notice, as stated in his contract, and receiving his salary even though he does not come to work anymore.
"We've asked him if he would like to come and help out but he said he wouldn't because it would be awkward and we treat it as his 'gardening leave'."
He added that the association offered him an advisory role in SBA at the meeting, as well as assistance for other job opportunities or if he wanted to set up his own academy, but Luan rejected the offer days later.
Luan is also upset with comments made by new chief coach Liu Qingdong at the Jan 8 media conference.
Liu, who was promoted from national intermediate squad coach, said then that the players were "mentally slack" and were content to reach the quarter-finals and semi-finals of competitions.
Yesterday, Luan showed a text message, supposedly sent by Liu on Jan 9, which said he was misquoted.
Luan said: "I believed him because I have spent the last few years grooming him, but I told him that since there's something wrong he should clarify the situation with the reporter.
"That was one month ago; last week he contacted me to say that he was still looking into the matter."
He sought redress with the association through a meeting and via email, but could not find the answer he was looking for.
He said: "Don't get me wrong, I do not seek anything further from the association and I have already signed the termination papers. But I want to leave with my dignity and reputation intact, and that is what I am asking for."
Lim said that Liu was entitled to his opinion and the SBA would stand by him.
Luan insisted he would have eventually got it right, insisting the Singapore badminton team were not in good shape when he took over in March 2010.
He said: "If I had known that it was a three-year stint, I wouldn't have come here; after two years here I sold my house in Taiwan, bought a place here and brought my entire family over.
"I had even considered making this my last stop as a top-level coach."