Ex-athletics chief Tang considering return
Oil trader dismayed by recent saga and may stand for next year's Singapore Athletics' election
The much-publicised infighting in the Singapore Athletics (SA) management has made many in the fraternity see red.
Former SA chief Tang Weng Fei is so affected by it that he is considering a return for a third time.
The rift was set to come to a head at a snap election this week, barely a year after its present leadership was voted into office.
But, less than 48 hours before the SA's scheduled extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) was to take place last night, its president Ho Mun Cheong pulled the plug.
Ho had garnered sufficient support from affiliates to call for the EOGM but, heeding the advice of International Olympic Committee member and veteran sports administrator Ng Ser Miang, he made a U-turn and asked the 10 affiliates who had signed a requisition for the EOGM two weeks ago to withdraw their request.
Tang, who led SA from 2004 to 2006, and then 2010 to last June, had previously cited in-fighting within the SA's exco as a reason for him not standing for re-election last year.
“I’m disappointed the development of the association is at this stage.”Former Singapore Athletics chief Tang Weng Fei
In an interview with The New Paper yesterday, the oil trader said: "I'm disappointed the development of the association is at this stage... it's bad.
"I don't know if it is my responsibility to consider coming back next year (at SA's biennial election) and cleaning it all up.
"I thought six years was enough... and with Mun Cheong getting a clear mandate from the affiliates, I thought I was leaving the SA in good hands.
"But it's obvious the current team don't have the leadership (required).
"I'm still thinking, and my business dealings in Myanmar are still my priority at the moment. But I'm looking into (standing)."
In his second stint, Tang presided over a promising era, which saw the emergence of talents such as sprinters Veronica Shanti Pereira and Zubin Muncherji, who broke long-standing national records.
After Tang's exit last June, Ho led a team to a landslide victory over another team led by lawyer Edmond Pereira, sweeping 12 of the 14 positions on offer.
But Ho's seven-man exco became fractured after disagreements over several issues, one of them being the employment status of SA general manager Jaime Cheong.
On one side stood Ho and long-time friend and ally Loh Chan Pew, who is vice-president (competitions organising).
On the other were vice-president (training and selection) Dr G Balasekaran, vice-president (finance) R Rajandran, honorary secretary Alexander Charles Louis, honorary treasurer Alvin Phua and assistant honorary secretary Tan Ming Jen.
The exco's disagreements resulted in national sports agency Sport Singapore witholding funding amounting to $550,000 since last July, because SA has not submitted a completed progress report and multi-year sports plan, as required.
Ho previously said the only way he felt the "gridlock" could be resolved was by dissolving the entire management committee, hence his push for an EOGM and snap election.
But, having heeded Ng's advice to call off the EOGM, Ho and his rivals are back to square one.
Wings Athletic Club vice-president Jezreel Mok, whose club are one of 12 affiliates on SA's management committee, said: "Of course, it makes me sad to see (in-fighting) happen again and again in the SA.
"Both sides have individuals with strong characters.
"But for now, I think we have to give them the benefit of the doubt to see if they can work through their differences."
Former national sprinter Kenneth Khoo is also upset at the saga.
The 35-year-old teacher, who was the captain of Singapore's athletics contingent at the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, said the athletes are ultimately the ones who suffer.
"Of course it troubles me," said Khoo. "I have to question the timing of having such a serious disagreement now, when athletes are trying their best and pushing themselves to qualify for the SEA Games (in Kuala Lumpur in August).
"The energy they spent going at each other's throats could have been better spent supporting the athletes.
"Now the EOGM is off, whatever reasons that caused them to argue will still be there.
"They don't have to like each other but they must be professional about it.
"For the sake of the athletes, they have to work it out."