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Tang retains SAA control

SINGAPORE — Such was the unpredictability and drama at the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) election that some of the 80 attendees at yesterday’s annual general meeting at Hotel Royal compared the contest to the excitement of the ongoing football World Cup.

Tang retains SAA control

SAA chief Tang Weng Fei (left) congratulating Loh Chan Pew, vice-president (competitions organising). Both retained their positions after the election at the SAA annual general meeting yesterday.
Photo: DON WONG

SINGAPORE — Such was the unpredictability and drama at the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) election that some of the 80 attendees at yesterday’s annual general meeting at Hotel Royal compared the contest to the excitement of the ongoing football World Cup.

The tussle for posts in the local governing body for track and field had promised to be a fiery one, between teams led by incumbent president Tang Weng Fei and his challenger Sng Sze Hiang, the head of electronics firm Akira.

And while Tang managed to retain control of the SAA executive committee — he beat Sng 13-8 for the presidency — his coming two-year term will be an interesting one as Sng’s camp won five of the 14 seats, after voting by the national sports association’s 21 affiliates. Canagasabai Kunalan secured the vote for vice-president (training & selection) with a 14-7 decision over Steven Lee.

But the elections took a dramatic turn when Loh Chan Pew and Ho Mun Cheong — former SAA vice-presidents who had fallen out with the association’s management committee — were both voted in, defeating William Wong and Patrick Pak for the vice-president (competitions organising) and honorary secretary respectively. The results were greeted with cheers from observers seated in the meeting room.

Apart from Loh and Chan, three others from Sng’s camp were also voted in: R Rajendran (vice-president finance), G Balasekaran (assistant honorary secretary) and Leong Lee San (chairman of race walking).

With infighting being one of the issues pre-election, Tang hopes all candidates who were voted in will now be able to unite and work together.

Said 60-year-old Tang: “First of all, I think the affiliates gave a clear mandate for me for the next two years, and it was touching to see the athletes coming to support me today.

“Infighting should not be there and we should spend our time developing athletes to reach their dreams.

“Over the next 24 months, we will see how to handle the infighting ... some of the problems are within the secretariat. We have two important events in the next two years: The SEA Games next year and Asian Masters in 2016.”

Tang also hopes to be able to resolve his issues with Loh. Earlier this year, Loh had written a complaint letter to Sport Singapore alleging irregularities within the SAA, while Lee had sent a letter to the IAAF without seeking the permission of the management committee. Both men were suspended but subsequently reinstated by an independent appeals panel.

Said Tang: “As our vice-patron (Victor Khoo) said, there shouldn’t be divisions in the fraternity. With Chan Pew, even though we have some misunderstandings, he is very suitable for the post. I hope he’s more rational, and let’s hope it’s water under the bridge and we can move forward.”

The SAA has set a goal of winning six gold medals at next June’s SEA Games in Singapore, and Loh is ready for the task at hand.

“All along my focus has been on the SEA Games and there is no time for us already,” said the veteran sports administrator.

“I was very confident I would win because people can see for themselves whether I am working. But I also got a shock because when we challenged Loh Lin Kok in 2010, it was not like that (splitting of votes between two camps).

“I have been involved in the management for 30 years and this is the first time we’ve seen a post-for-post challenge. Let’s meet first and talk ... we have got a job to do.”

SAA election results:

President: Tang Weng Fei 13 Sng Sze Hiang 8

Vice-President, training and selection: Canagasabai Kunalan 14 Steven Lee 7

Vice-President, competitions organising: William Wong 7 Loh Chan Pew 14 *

Vice-President, Finance: Jezreel Mok 8 R Rajandran 13 *

Honorary secretary: Patrick Pak 7 Ho Mun Cheong 14 *

Assistant honorary secretary: Mona Ng 10 G Balasekaran 11 *

Honorary treasurer: Cheng Heng Tan 11 A Alagirisamy 10

Statistician: Toh Wei De 14 C Jeyapandiyen 7

Women’s representative: Lee Yan Lin 15 June Koh 6

Chairman, cross country and road running: Ghana Segeran 12 Tan Ming Jen 9

Chairman, race walking: Chu Seow Beng 8 Leong Lee San 13 *

Chairman, officials: Govindaraju Sinnappan 11 Yap Choon Hoe 10

Chairman, technical and equipment: Ron Koh 13 Ong Choon Poh 8

Chairman, tug-of-war: Rahmatullah M S Shaik Dawood 11 Tan Wei Leong 10

* denotes winning candidates from Sng’s camp

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