Turmoil at Singapore Athletics
SA president hits back at critics, unfazed at plan to oust him in EOGM next month
It had been brewing for over a month and, yesterday, the troubles within the Singapore Athletics (SA) spilled over.
The New Paper understands that several members of the national track and field body's management committee intend to call for an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) next month, in a bid to oust its president Ho Mun Cheong.
And the 68-year-old is upset by what he describes as "politics".
After all, it has barely been a year since he led his team to a landslide victory at the election of office bearers last June, sweeping 12 of the 14 positions on offer. But it appears Ho has lost some of his team's support just 10 months on.
When contacted by The New Paper yesterday, the former national athlete was clearly disappointed by the turn of events.
"This is human nature... This is politics, right?" said Ho, when asked if he felt betrayed.
"Sometimes, people come to a stage where they think they know better. If so, by all means."
On condition of anonymity, an SA affiliate told TNP: "There have been a lot of very heated quarrels in recent meetings.
"One management committee member also accused (Ho) of acting dictatorially."
The rift in the SA management is understood to have been caused by disagreements over various issues.
The first is the appointment of Jaime Cheong as general manager, with some members insisting the former national women's floorball coach lacks "experience and performance" for the post and should be removed.
Another issue is that Ho's critics in the management committee believe the president has made "unilateral actions", which were listed in a meeting agenda dated March 29 that was shown to TNP.
Ho, however, played down the disagreements in meetings.
He added that he wanted to prove his worth to the body - as well as that of longtime friend and close ally SA vice-president (competitions) Loh Chan Pew - by delivering a successful Singapore Open meet on April 27 and 28.
"In meetings, of course there will be some quarrels. It's normal," he said.
"Some of the exco cannot agree on things... But, to me, we have to put aside all these things now. We are focusing on the Singapore Open. Chan Pew and I are working very hard to make it a success.
"If some members are not happy about our performance... Well, everybody has his own views."
Ho also confirmed that sports governing body Sport Singapore has withheld funding from the SA since July last year, leaving the association to dip into its reserves.
Ho declined to go into details, but said Cheong's "employment status" was one reason the funding was not released.
In response to queries, a SportSg spokesman said: There was a commitment to build a more cohesive athletics fraternity when Ho Mun Cheong and his team came onboard. We hope that the leadership will be able to work through the issues.
"The budget for athletics has been approved since last year and we are currently awaiting the submission of some documents before disbursing the funds.
"The funding includes the agreed support for the new technical director Volker Herrmann."
While he is keen to continue in his post, Ho was stoic when asked how he felt about the prospect of being ousted.
He said: "We are all volunteers. The reason we come in is passion. We have nothing to gain, not a single cent.
"The only reason we do this is we want to help out track and field, and hope it progresses.
"After all, people like Chan Pew and I are former national athletes.
"Most of the time, you will see just the two of us at various meets. You don't see other exco members there.
"I feel we do the most work... You can see for yourself. I'm not bulls****ing."