Loh and Lee back in SAA
Appeals panel overturn ban, but Tang says decision did not rule on their alleged wrongdoing
Reinstated, but not exonerated.
That's the stance of the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA), even as an independent appeals panel overturned the track and field body's suspension of two senior officials yesterday.
SAA vice-president (organising and competition) Loh Chan Pew and vice-president (training and selection) Steven Lee had been suspended since a management committee meeting on Feb 18.
But a three-person appeals panel, chaired by Singapore Rugby Union chief Low Teo Ping, found that the SAA's action to suspend Loh and Lee (inset) was "not robust enough in accordance with due process" of the SAA constitution.
In a statement, SAA president Tang Weng Fei said he accepted the "final and binding" decision of the appeals panel on behalf of the management committee, and that Loh and Lee had been reinstated with immediate effect.
But, he insisted it did not clear the duo of their alleged wrongdoing which prompted the SAA management committee to hand down the bans.
Speaking to The New Paper last night, Tang said: "The appeals panel did not look at the misbehaviour (of Loh and Lee), it just looked at the due process of the suspension.
"And it (the suspension) was not robust enough as Chan Pew wasn't present at the management committee meeting (on Feb 18). Steven was there but he kept quiet.
"It does not exonerate them from the misbehaviour."
Loh could not make it for the meeting as he was hospitalised at the time.
Despite the less-than-cordial response from Tang, he was quoted in a statement as saying he looked forward to Loh and Lee's contributions to the SAA now that they are reinstated.
The New Paper understands the SAA management committee will not take any further action against the duo but it is likely they will not be on Tang's team when the body's elections come round in June.
Loh, a former national sprinter, was charged for behaving aggressively at an SAA exco meeting.
He later sent an e-mail to the CEO of Sport Singapore, Lim Teck Yin, alleging that a senior member of the SAA was involved in irregular practices.
Lee, meanwhile, had allegedly overstepped his authority by contacting the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to clarify SAA procedures without informing Tang.
Loh and Lee both felt "vindicated" by the ruling of the panel, which was made up of Low, Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua and Sport Singapore deputy chairman Cheah Kim Teck.
Loh said it rebutted Tang's previous assertion that he was only on a "personal crusade" against the SAA official he reported to Sport Singapore.
Said Loh: "I see it as my duty to ensure that wrongdoings do not have a foothold within the SAA as public money is involved and we are under the Charities Act... (and) I expect that where wrong is done, there must be no cover up as we are all bound by the law which will not tolerate any dishonesty from its charities.
"I felt very hurt by all the baseless allegations against me and I was disturbed by it for the past months, but I held on to the faith that truth will prevail and I am glad it did."
Lee, meanwhile, said his correspondence with the IAAF was "part and parcel" of his role as SAA vice-president.
He wants an apology from Tang.
"The SAA president cannot just slap somebody, and then turn around now, pretending like nothing had happened."
But Tang retorted: "Why should I apologise to him?
"In the e-mail Chan Pew sent to the CEO of (Sport Singapore), he clearly drew a line between him and Steven, and me and the SAA.
"Respect begets respect."
I felt very hurt by all the baseless allegations against me and I was disturbed by it for the past months, but I held on to the faith that truth will prevail and I am glad it did.
- Loh Chan Pew