Sport SG calls for unity in Singapore athletics
Unless SA cuts out discord, it could suffer funding cuts, warns Sport Singapore CEO
Stop the spat, or risk getting your funding cut.
That's the stern warning Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin has for national track and field body Singapore Athletics (SA).
SA will appoint a new president at its elections tomorrow night, after Tang Weng Fei, who has been at the helm for the past six years, made a shock announcement two weeks ago that he would step down.
The oil trader cited in-fighting within members of the association's management committee members as a key reason for his decision.
Criminal lawyer Edmond Pereira and current SA honorary secretary Ho Mun Cheong are vying to succeed him.
In the past week, both candidates introduced their teams to the media, with strong statements coming out of both camps.
Pereira said that if he were elected president, candidates from the opposition camp who "can't work with me... (will) have a problem".
C Kunalan, the current SA vice-president (training and selection) who is contesting for the vice-president (competitions) post, said the association has "wasted time" in the last two years having "disrespectful" arguments among its own members.
Ho, meanwhile, claimed Tang misinterpreted disagreements as personal attacks and accused him of behaving in a "dictatorial manner" in his role as president.
In response to The New Paper's queries, Sport SG chief Lim said: "The public airing of disagreements and splits within the SA executive committee is unfortunate and disturbing.
"Disagreements are to be expected, but there is a need for these to be ironed out within a climate of mutual respect and professional decorum.
"If the SA continues along the current trajectory of discord, that progress on future plans would be in jeopardy.
"I hope that the climate at the upcoming elections for office holders would give all onlookers confidence that the sport has a bright future."
Lim also warned the SA: "Public funding for a national sport association and sport is among other things premised on the potential for a cohesive leadership team and fraternity to come together to advance the development of the sport in Singapore.
"Sport SG would therefore be looking for indications that the athletics fraternity at large is willing to work together for the interests of enthusiasts, athletes and fans."
In his statement, Lim also clarified that the outstanding debt to SA, for the 2015 Standard Chartered Marathon by former race organisers Spectrum Worldwide, has been settled.
Ho's team had named the matter as one of several complaints it had against Tang.
R Rajandran, the incumbent vice-president (finance) who is on Ho's team, also claimed Tang decided to step down from his post only after he and his running mates sent a letter to the Singapore National Olympic Council and Sport SG dated June 13, with "evidence... that support the contention that (Tang) was dictatorial and acting in a unilateral manner".
Tang rubbished the claim and Lim yesterday qualified his explanation, saying: "President of SA, Tang Weng Fei, had apprised Sport Singapore of his decision to step down a few months ago and we have consequently been in discussion about succession plans."
Pereira yesterday told TNP that the comments made by Ho and his team validated his call for unity and transparency as key pillars for his team's leadership of SA.
"The press conference for the other team was used as a platform to attack (Tang)," he said.
"While they claim there is no in-fighting or discord between members of the management committee, what they said (at the press conference) showed there are serious problems within it.
"That's why my call to the affiliates is that there's a need for change and a need for a new team."
The 66-year-old added: "I may not have worked the ground as much as Ho and Loh (Chan Pew, incumbent training and selections vice-president) and I am not surprised because they should, as they are in the association.
"But I've contacted the affiliates, I've spoken and listened to them, and the feedback and response I've got are encouraging."
Loh responded: "I already said it the other day, there is no in-fighting in SA.
"In fact, there have been three or four cases where there is a disagreement in exco meetings and a tie in votes, and (Tang) overrules the matter by making the decision. But we kept quiet about it."