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Legal tussle between SEA Games taekwondo champion and governing body may be set for resolution

SINGAPORE — A legal tussle between four-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games taekwondo champion Wong Liang Ming and the sport’s governing body in Singapore could be poised for settlement.

Legal tussle between SEA Games taekwondo champion and governing body may be set for resolution

Four-time SEA Games taekwondo champion Wong Liang Ming (left) with her lawyer Clarence Lun (right) and her family outside the Supreme Court.

  • Ms Wong Liang Ming lost a judicial review application against a ban imposed on her by the Singapore Taekwondo Federation
  • The High Court said Ms Wong’s recourse lies in defamation proceedings, but not judicial review
  • The federation is meeting to consider a possible offer to Ms Wong

 

SINGAPORE — A legal tussle between four-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games taekwondo champion Wong Liang Ming and the sport’s governing body in Singapore could be poised for settlement.

On Tuesday (Oct 27), Ms Wong failed in a High Court appeal for a judicial review of a ban imposed on her participation in any taekwondo-related events in Singapore or abroad by the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF).

The ban was imposed for alleged misconduct by Ms Wong, 57, which she has strongly denied. She had worked as a taekwondo coach for decades until the ban.

On Friday, Mr Clarence Lun from Foxwood LLC, who leads the legal team for Ms Wong, told TODAY that while they had lost the appeal, they will be fighting on — though STF has indicated it may be ready to offer Ms Wong a settlement.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Ms Wong said the court was of the view that even though the announcement of her ban by the STF was overly broad, her recourse lies in defamation proceedings and not judicial review. As such, it was dismissed by Justice Audrey Lim.

Ms Wong has already filed a defamation suit against STF over the ban.

TODAY has sought comment from STF.

Mr Lun said that the STF told the court they would meet on Friday to discuss possible offers and terms for his client. By 7.30pm on Friday, Mr Lun had not heard back from the STF’s lawyers.

Ms Wong, who was the former STF secretary-general, said she has given instructions to hold back from filing an appeal against the judicial review decision for now, as she is waiting to hear proposals for settlement from the federation.

“I have dedicated my entire life to taekwondo. Taekwondo has taught me much and given me much. With tenacity, courage and resolve, I shall stay strong and will overcome this,” said Ms Wong, who has been a coach for more than 40 years.

The application for judicial review of the STF decision was filed on June 3 this year after her suspension was announced on the federation’s website on May 19.

The STF statement said that it was informed in a Jan 11 letter by World Taekwondo that Ms Wong had been suspended by the sport’s international governing body for alleged grave misconduct.

"As a consequence, (Ms Wong) has forfeited all rights as a member of World Taekwondo and as such is not allowed to be involved in taekwondo-related activities in Singapore as well as any taekwondo-related activities worldwide," it added.

According to court documents, Ms Wong said the federation’s announcement was not only false and defamatory, owing to its overly-wide scope, but also injured her reputation and standing in society.

Mr Lun said that World Taekwondo’s letter is “bare and bereft of content” and provides no account or details of Ms Wong’s purported grave misconduct.

A Straits Times article on May 22 last year reported that Ms Wong was one of two senior STF officials who had allegedly breached parts of the international body’s code of ethics.

The report stated that Ms Wong was accredited as a volunteer during the 2018 Korea Open but had assumed authority as the “acting referee chairperson”, and even issued instructions to technical officials on the field of play.

This was allegedly done despite Ms Wong not receiving the authority to do so by the tournament’s chief referee, STF’s then-general manager Lim Teong Chin.

Instead, Mr Lim, who is Ms Wong’s husband, had asked her to help him with administrative duties, the report said.

It also quoted World Taekwondo secretary-general Hoss Rafaty as saying that the body’s judicial and ethics committee was of the opinion that the relationship between the husband and wife, “working on the field of play together at the same event, created a high conflict-of-interest risk”.

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Taekwondo SEA Games defamation appeal court

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