Gojek GM Lien Choong Luen vies for Singapore Athletics presidency
Incumbent Tang to focus on family and business, won't seek re-election
Gojek Singapore general manager Lien Choong Luen, who threw his hat into the ring to become president of Singapore Athletics (SA) yesterday, said he would run the embattled national sports association (NSA) with transparency, accountability and without ego.
He could replace Tang Weng Fei, who revealed that he would not stand for re-election at SA's online annual general meeting next month, bringing an end to his third tenure as the NSA's head, which began in 2018.
Tang, a former national hurdler, said the decision was prompted by a need to "recalibrate my obligations" towards his family and oil-trading business, with the Covid-19 pandemic causing him to be unable to travel to manage his overseas operations in Hong Kong, Thailand and Myanmar.
Vying to replace him is Lien, 43, and his "Team Ground Up", which features five-time SEA Games silver medallist Gary Yeo, who in March resigned from the Tang-helmed SA management committee over differing views on its direction.
Explaining his nine-person slate's mantras, Lien, a former military man who has scaled Mount Everest and held posts at Triathlon Singapore and Singapore Squash Rackets Association, told The New Paper: "We want to be really transparent without conflicts of interest... There's a lot of dispute around athlete selection...
"Second, we will be accountable, meaning that if we don't execute, then we answer for the failures... My team has worked in corporates. We have a good sense of goal-setting, accountability, governance, fund-raising, managing money, financial audits and marketing...
"And third, is really no egos... There's a lot of ego at stake (at NSAs) because these are all competitors. Many people were in the scene and they bring a competitive mindset into running an NSA. An NSA should really be thought of collaboratively."
SA has been plagued by problems in recent years, with public spats between athletes such as Soh Rui Yong and Ashley Liew.
The NSA is currently embroiled in legal proceedings with two-time SEA Games marathon gold medallist Soh over comments made regarding his omission from the 2019 Games.
After the biennial Games in the Philippines last December, the NSA was chided by national sports agency Sport Singapore for internal discord, with three coaches resigning soon after.
The situation on the track was similarly disappointing, with the Republic's contingent bagging just three bronzes, after claiming eight medals (including two golds) in 2017 and nine (three golds) in 2015.
Last month, former SA vice-president Loh Siang Piow, better known in the fraternity as Loh Chan Pew, was sentenced to 21 months' jail for molesting a teenage athlete twice in 2013.
Looking back, Tang, 66, said: "Too many disagreements and conflicts within not only the MC (management committee) but we were also plagued with a lot of court proceedings.
"Basically an NSA is supposed to be focused on the development of the sport. With a house not in harmony, it is not easy, but I hope the new team will learn lessons and move on...
"The (new) management committee must not only be passionate but have the right mindset. I think with the current situation, you need a lot of financial and legal knowledge."
While Lien emphasised his respect for Tang, he said if elected he would aim for mediation over legal recourse.
Said Lien: "Even though we do have a law professor on our slate (Chen Siyuan) who went to Harvard Law School, legal recourse is not the first recourse we want to appeal to.
"We want to be informed, but really we want to speak and mediate if any friction or point of dispute arises...
"If you just look at the instances over the past few years, it seems that mediation tends to have broken down or may not be the first resort of addressing athlete or community issues.
"Going in there with that spirit of willingness to negotiate is probably what would make the difference."
TEAM GROUND UP
Lien Choong Luen (President)
Gary Yeo (Vice-President, training & selection)
Marinda Teo (Vice-President, finance & partnership)
Joe Yap (Vice-President, competitions organising)
Arthur Lin (Honorary secretary)
Belinda Neo (Honorary treasurer)
Jonathan Tan Liong (Committee member)
Chen Siyuan (Committee member)
Kelvin Ang (Committee member)