Resignations at SingaporeSailing are part and parcel of leadership changes

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times. Similar reports appeared in The New Paper and Today.

Choppy Waters

(The Straits Times, 19 Oct 2010)

Two senior staff members quit sailing federation less than a month before Asian Games

By Lin Xinyi

WITH less than a month to the Asian Games, there are signs that the ride to Guangzhou is not going to be smooth for the Singapore Sailing Federation.

The national sports association yesterday confirmed that two senior staff members – executive director Edwin Low and head of high performance Mark Robinson – had tendered their resignation on Sept 24 and Oct 12, respectively.

However, they are expected to remain in their posts until after the Games in Guangzhou, where sailing is expected to deliver at least two gold medals.

Both men downplayed the significance of their departure and signalled a desire to move on.

According to a source, at least two more full-time staff members and a national coach are poised to leave – a claim denied by the association.

Parting will be hard for 54-year-old Low, who is also the secretary general.

He has been with SingaporeSailing since 2000, and was one of the pioneer staff at the National Sailing Centre.

‘After 10 years, it was definitely a tough decision to leave,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a good time. I suppose with a new management in place, it was a good time to step out before I got too deep in the system.’

Robinson, 36, joined as a technical manager in 2003. When asked if his decision to resign had anything to do with Low’s earlier resignation, Robinson said it was not a factor.

‘It’s just part of an ongoing evolution,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure it’s a dramatic event. I don’t think it’ll have any effect on the Asian Games.’

SingaporeSailing deputy president Dr Loh Kok Hua said that preparations for next month’s Guangzhou Games would not be disrupted.

‘This is a tremendous loss because of their sterling service to SingaporeSailing,’ said Dr Loh, who also chairs the search committee for suitable successors.

‘The most important thing now is to make sure that preparations continue and our sailors are well prepared.’

He expects the transition period to take up to six months but insisted that strategic plans will be carried out.

Low himself had taken over his current post from his predecessor Andrew Sanders in February.

In June, Dr Ben Tan took over the helm from outgoing president Low Teo Ping, who served for 12 years.

Dr Tan could not be reached for comment.

Teo Ping said he was numbed by the news but was quick to pay tribute to the two stalwarts.

Singapore’s chef de mission for the Asian Games said: ‘Knowing that Edwin and Mark are going to play pivotal roles in supporting the sailors, and hearing that they will leave only after the Asian Games, I’m relieved.’

With the Games beckoning, both Low and Robinson are eager to bow out on a high when they leave in April and January respectively.

 Said Low: ‘We’ve been working on the Asian Games project since 2006. We want to see this through and end on a good note.’

My thoughts:

To be honest,  I felt that the reports on Low and Robinson’s resinations in all the three main English papers ie The Straits Times, The New Paper and Today sounded a little alarmist.

Let’s give these two men a little more credit, hey? Yes, they have tendered their resignations, and yes, it is a pity to see them go, particularly Low who is a good bloke and whose ‘uncle-ly’ presence, I am sure, will be missed by the sailors.

But Robinson and Low  are only leaving in January and April, which means they will be around to see the Asian Games through before preparing the handing over process. So for the above report to say that “the ride to Guangzhou is not going to be smooth” is a bit of an extreme view.

Am I shocked by the resignations? Well, I was surprised when I read the reports today but then again, resignations are a common occurence in organisations whenever new leadership takes over at the helm.

For example, six top executives in the Singapore Sports Council subsequently resigned over a period of time after Oon Jin Teik took over as its chief executive in 2004. And now that Oon is leaving to join water management systems company Hyflux next year, it will be normal to expect some of his lieutenants to be quitting soon after his successor takes over.

Likewise, the senior management staff at the Singapore Athletics Association also stepped down soon after Loh Lin Kok announced that he would not be running for the presidency again.

As such, I felt it was a crude and cheap shot for a source to tell The New Paper that the resignations are not as amicable as they seem, that “there is discontent with the new management, wheher it’s because of their modus operandi or something else , I don’t know.”

What the resignations do suggest, however, is that former Singapore Sailing president Low Teo Ping and his successor Ben Tan probably have different leadership styles and that both men have different plans for the sport. And now Tan needs to find his own people to carry out his vision for the future of the sport.

Let’s see whether Tan’s own men can deliver the goods for Singapore sailing. Only after a period of time, when they have settled in, can we then be in a position to say whether the ride ahead for the sport is looking rough or smooth.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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2 thoughts on “Resignations at SingaporeSailing are part and parcel of leadership changes

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