Ho Mun Cheong is new SA president
After initial drama, 67-year-old engineer and majority of his team take control of SA
New Singapore Athletics (SA) president Ho Mun Cheong struck a conciliatory tone when he met the press for the first time last night.
Not long after he had defeated Edmond Pereira at SA's annual general meeting at the Black Box at the Singapore Sports Hub, he pledged to end the squabbling that mired the last management team for the last two years.
"The team I have are very cohesive, and I see no problems," said the 67-year-old, beaming.
"Most importantly, we will have collective agreement in what we are doing (and) we don't want to wash dirty linen in public.
"Also, we aim to work closely with Sport Singapore, because they are our paymasters."
Sport SG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin had delivered a stern warning to the association, chiding it for the "public airing of disagreements and splits within the SA executive committee".
Lim also warned SA that its funding could even be affected if it could not prove it had a cohesive leadership team.
While a jubilant Ho was determined to paint a picture of harmony within track and field fraternity, the drama that preceded his appointment suggested it was anything but.
After an initial round of votes involving the 20 affiliates, Ho and Pereira were tied on 10 each.
Outgoing president Tang Weng Fei, as chairman of the AGM, then announced that, as per the SA's constitution, a re-vote would be conducted and, if there was another tie, he would cast the deciding vote.
This was met with an outcry by members of Ho's team, who said that Tang should not be allowed to make the decisive vote as he had publicly backed Pereira.
Members of Pereira's team hit back, saying that the constitution governs the AGM and the elections, and going against it would make the appointment of office-holders unconstitutional.
One affiliate member then pointed out to Tang he could give up his vote to someone else, but another shot the idea down, saying: "Let's not make a mockery out of this thing."
After about 10 minutes of verbal jousting, Tang put his foot down and said: "It's quite sad that it's very divisive now but, at the end of the day, what governs (the AGM) is the constitution."
The oil trader's vote was not needed, however, as after the second round, Ho pipped Pereira with 11 votes against nine.
Pereira's team members C Kunalan and Cheng Heng Tan, who were vying for vice-president posts, then walked out of the AGM.
Ho's team went on to sweep 12 of 14 posts of the executive committee.
For Pereira, the third time was not a charm, after coming up short in bids to become the national association president in 1983 and 2000.
Said the 66-year-old criminal lawyer: "It's a pity. It's unfortunate. But what can I say?
"The affiliates came to the AGM to pick a new management for SA, and they are the ones who decide the fate of the athletes. I only came back because I wanted to help our athletes, but the affiliates have chosen.
"I wish (Ho's team) the best, they got the votes of the affiliates and I hope they will be fair to the athletes and move the sport forward."
Tang also congratulated Ho and his team.
"The affiliates have spoken," he said.
"They have given a clear mandate and I think we should respect their decision. I wish them well.
"Like I said, I'll always be a cheerleader. Anytime they need help, I'm always there."
Afterwards, Ho listed the top three priorities for his team - coming up with a code of conduct for members of the executive committee, creating an athletes' commission to look after the welfare of athletes, and preparing national athletes for next year's South-east Asia Games in Malaysia.
New vice-president (training and selection) Dr G Balasekaran was confident in his team's ability to take the sport forward.
"Our team now are much stronger, and we should be much more cohesive," he said. "It'll be for the betterment of Singapore athletics."
SA vice-patron and adviser Victor Khoo also held out hope the new team can improve the sport.
"We had a good team the last time round, made up of people who were ready to work and serve, but unfortunately, there was conflict," said the 77-year-old.
"What I know is that this team are full of workaholics.
"In terms of charisma, maybe Edmond has the edge.
"But, if he does not have the support of the team or the affiliates, then it wouldn't work, either.
"I just hope athletics can move forward under this team."
Kunalan, Cheng walk out
"I left because I don’t want to work with people who have given so much trouble in the last two years. People must work together but that’s impossible without the right people." — C Kunalan (above)
Shortly after Ho Mun Cheong was confirmed as the new president of Singapore Athletics (SA) last night, beating Edmond Pereira 11-9 after a second round of voting, Singapore sprint legend C Kunalan, along with Cheng Heng Tan, stood up and left the AGM at the Black Box auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Kunalan and Cheng, who were part of Pereira's team challenging for the vice-president posts for competitions and finance, respectively, decided to walk out before a vote was cast for their categories.
As a result, Loh Chan Pew and R Rajkumar, from Ho's camp, retained their respective positions as vice-president for competitions and finance.
This could well spell the end of Kunalan's direct involvement with Singapore athletics.
The 73-year-old, currently senior manager (strategic development and marketing group) at Sport Singapore, won a silver medal in the 1966 Asian Games 100m final and is widely considered one of Singapore's greatest athletes.
"I kept saying the affiliates have to vote in the whole team (of Pereira's camp)," said Kunalan, who had been the association's vice-president for training and selection under the previous regime led by Tang Weng Fei.
"I left because I don't want to work with people who have given so much trouble in the last two years.
"People must work together but that's impossible without the right people."
Ho and Loh were surprised Kunalan and Cheng chose not to contest, but were quick to express their desire to improve Singapore athletics.
Loh, who has been a sports administrator for over three decades, is eager to unearth and develop the next generation of office-bearers for SA.
The 71-year-old, who is also coach of national athletes such as men's 400m runner Ng Chin Hui, said: "I'm disappointed they walked out and didn't want to fight for the positions.
"We won 12 out of the 14 positions and even for those we lost (women's representative, and cross country and road running), I have worked with them closely before so I'm happy and confident we can move on and improve the sport.
"Our first main task is to plan for the 2017 SEA Games.
"We will organise more major meets for our athletes, I will work closely with Dr G Balasekaran (vice-president for training and selection), we will pick the national squad, train and then go for the SEA Games.
"I also want to start looking for my successor.
"Mun Cheong and I are not young any more, and we will look to identify young and capable administrators for our sport within this term or the next.
"But I still have a lot of passion for athletics and I will continue contributing as a coach for some time more."
SA Election Results
SA ELECTION RESULTS
- President: Ho Mun Cheong beat Edmond Pereira 11-9 (after two rounds of voting)
- Vice-president (training and selection): Dr G Balasekaran beat Melvin Tan 12-8
- Vice-president (training and selection): Loh Chan Pew beat C Kunalan (walkover)
- Vice-president (finance): R Rajkumar beat Cheng Heng Tan (walkover)
- Secretary: Alexander C Louis beat Poh Seng Song 11-9
- Assistant Secretary: Tan Ming Jen beat Damon Yong 14-6
- Treasurer: Alvin Phua beat Sheena Hu 13-7
- Statistician: Peter Back beat Ron Koh 12-8
- Women’s representative: Lee Yan Lin beat Margaret Oh 11-9
- Chairman (Cross-country and road racing): Ghana Segaran beat A Kannan 11-9
- Chairman (Race walking): Dr Leong Lee San beat Joe Goh 12-8
- Chairman (Officials): Joe Yap beat S Govindaraju 11-9
- Chairman (Technical and equipment): Ong Choon Poh beat Jezreel Mok 13-7
- Chairman (Tug of war): Terry Tan beat Rahmatullah Shaik Dawood 12-8