Tag Archives: Loh Lin Kok

The previous SAA management is wholly at fault for the timing system fiasco that Dipna had to suffer

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Dipna denied by glitches (The Straits Times, 4 April  2011)

Electronic timing system fails, so her national marks aren’t recognized

By Terrence Voon

POOR Dipna Lim-Prasad. The 19-year-old sprinter and hurdler was in sizzling form at the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) Track and Field Series 3 at Nanyang Polytechnic yesterday, ‘breaking’ two national records.

But a historic day for the youngster turned sour when she learnt that both ‘records’ – in the 100m hurdles and the 200m – would not stand because of a glitch in the electronic timing equipment.

Had the timings been admitted, seasoned observers say it would have been the first time a Singapore track athlete had set two national records in different events on the same day.

Instead, it was a weekend in which nothing went right for Dipna. On Saturday, she was disqualified from the 100m dash after a false start.

Yesterday came the 100m hurdles, when her time of 14.30sec would have lowered the previous national record of 14.56, which she set in January. But a technical malfunction put paid to the feat in her pet event.

Later, the electronic timing system failed to work again in the 200m, where she clocked 24.50sec. The result, had it stood, would have broken Prema Govindan’s 26-year-old time of 24.54sec.

A disappointed Dipna said the technical problems had ‘shattered her dreams’. ‘I didn’t false start, the headwind was okay, everything was there,’ she added. ‘But I forgot to pray for the electronic timing to work.’

The timing system used by the SAA, called FinishLynx, has been in service since the 1990s. Breakdowns are rare, said SAA’s general manager Ong Yeok Phee, although there were at least four instances yesterday when it failed.

But Dipna’s coach Slava Vassiliev said a similar problem occurred at the previous week’s Singapore Press Holdings Schools Relay Championships.

‘They must buy a new system because this is not the first time something like this has happened in competition,’ he said. ‘People want to qualify for the South-east Asia Games and break national records.’

The SAA has clarified that it will still recognise Dipna’s results – under a category for hand-timed national records.

But that is little consolation for the Nanyang Technological University freshman, who had returned to the track recently after a year-long injury layoff. ‘They have acknowledged my efforts, but to me it’s not official,’ she said.

Her next race is at the Thailand Open in two weeks’ time, where she hopes to meet the 100m hurdles’ SEA Games qualification time of 14.21.


My thoughts:

I was so dismayed when I read this and I cannot begin to imagine the huge sense of disappointment Dipna must be feeling.

But to be honest, I don’t think all blame should be shouldered by the current management of the Singapore Athletics Association. I strongly feel that the accusing finger should be pointed at the previous regime.

During his running battle with the Singapore Sports Council, during the period when the SSC stopped its funding of the SAA, then-president Loh Lin Kok had proudly and cockily boasted that the national body had enough funds (reportedly more than $1 million) in reserve to keep going on its own steam for a while.

Now this in turn begs the question: if there were enough funds, then why wasn’t any of it ever used to upgrade the electronic timing system?

I mean, the ST report says that the current system used by the SAA, which failed four times during last weekend’s Track and Field Series 3, has been in service since the 1990s. So, shouldn’t that have raised alarm bells a long time ago?

How can one reasonably expect electronic systems to last for 10 to 15 years when laptops and other gadgets these days have a shelf life of up to five years? Where was the foresight and forward planning in the SAA back then?

And now it has led to such an unnecessary  fiasco, and it has rendered a historic feat by a rising talent completely meaningless. And to think that the previous management had officials and coaches with such high-level IAAF credentials and qualifications. Shame on them!

I am not going to blame the  current SAA management entirely even if the system had supposedly failed during the Singapore Press Holdings School Relay Championships. I really don’t think they could have gotten a new replacement in such a short space of time.

But the national body must now do the right thing by its athletes and buy a new timing system as soon as possible so that such incidents do not happen again.

As for Dipna, I can only hope that she is not badly affected by this incident and that she will bounce back from it in the most stunning way.

I am crossing my fingers too that she will gain confidence from the fact that she did break the two national records nevertheless, and use that to push herself to an encore performance at later meets and qualify for the South-east Asia Games.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan


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Going from special advisor to potential presidential candidate

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Possible SAA rivals still working together

(The Strais Times, 4 June 2010)

DESPITE being thrust into the roles of possible adversaries for the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) presidency, Tang Weng Fei and Low Teo Ping both insist that cooperation between them remains paramount.

This, after a three-hour meeting yesterday between the pair which Low described as ‘amicable’, while Tang maintained that they were ‘still working closely together as a team’.

Both men are the only candidates that remain linked with athletics’ top post, following news that incumbent Loh Lin Kok (who has held the post for much of the last three decades) and Cuesports Singapore president Subhas Anandan have dropped out of the running.

Oil trader Tang, 56, the SAA chief from 2004 to 2006, had announced his candidacy in February. In the 22-page booklet handed out to the media to introduce his team, Low, 65, was listed as his adviser.

 ‘He is still my adviser,’ declared Tang, who returned from China yesterday. ‘He is an authority on sports management and I feel it is important to tap his experience.’ 

He refused to elaborate on the nature of their conversation, however, choosing his words carefully.

‘We were discussing how to take athletics forward. There are a lot of major events this year and we have to start planning and focusing our resources now.’

Meanwhile, Low, the outgoing SingaporeSailing president who is also president of the Singapore Rugby Union, declined to comment on his next move.

Said the retired banker, who is also a vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Council and the International Sailing Federation: ‘Any talk right now would be premature.’

Time, however, is running out with the SAA’s annual general meeting scheduled for June 25. Those who wish to contest any of the 13 posts up for grabs – including three vice-presidents, the honorary secretary and honorary treasurer – must express interest at least seven days before the AGM.



My thoughts:

I’ve been wondering – what would make Low Teo Ping, originally brought in as an advisor to the team that Tang Weng Fei is fielding for the June 25 SAA elections, suddenly entertain, and be highly receptive to, the idea of running for the presidency himself.

Why would a man who is already so highly involved with the Singapore Sports Council and the Singapore National Olympic Council  and who is also the current president of the Singapore Rugby Union, want to take on yet another hat (and arguably the hardest hat to wear in Singapore sport): the presidency of Singapore athletics?

And then it struck me:

Given all the success he has tasted in Singapore sailing, and given the type of go-getting character that he is, it surelystands to reason that Low is thirsting for more opportunities for sports leadership, to see what else he can do and which sport he can make a success of after stepping down from the presidency of Singapore Sailing

And so I reckon that when someone planted the idea of running for the Singapore Athletic Association presidency, that go-getting part of him must have thought “Hey, why not?”

After all, let’s be frank: there’s seriously glory to be obtained in being someone else’s special advisor, not when you are one who is so used to rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in the dirt yourself.

And a job like the SAA presidency must seem like a truly exciting challenge to Low, given the state that it is currently languishing in.

But this in turn begs the question: what about rugby? He is after all the president of the SRU.

Why not get stuck into rugby and devote all your attention to a sport that you are currently helming?

Well, let’s face it – what future is there really in Singapore rugby?

Truly, how far can Singapore rugby truly go? Not that far – and that’s only in Asia.

Its brief stint in the Asian Five Nations last year saw them being thumped by all the other teams and relegated back to Division One. This year, the team fell to Sri Lanka in the Division One final and missed out on promotion.

The bottom line: Singapore rugby’s scope for development is limited. It cannot compete beyond a certain level, unless it is infused with a steady stream of foreign talent (for their skills as well as their size), and honestly, where is the fun in that?

On the other hand, Singapore athletics is so rock bottom now that the only way left to go is up. In other words, it is  replete with so many ample opportunities for Loh’s successor to turn the sport around.

And it’s clear that the Singapore sporting authorities are waiting to bless the new successor with the funds and all other forms of support needed to help turn the Republic’s athletes into South-east Asian champions at the very least (and probably even more funds and support if the winning candidate is one that it prefers).

I suspect that Low did his math and figured that the opportunity to helm the turnaround of  Singapore athletics is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that has to be seized right here and now.  

The only obstacle left in his path is finding a team to lead to the elections. And that is probably why Singapore athletics is now in this weird situation.

But hey, better this weird situation than the current status quo, no? 

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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My take on Loh Lin Kok asking Subhas Anandan to run for the SAA presidency

The report:

This report was published in yesterday’s edition of The Sunday Times. It is a follow-up to a story earlier in the week about embattled  and beleaguered Singapore Athletic Association president Loh Lin Kok asking his good friend, renowned lawyer Subhas Anandan to consider running for the presidency of the SAA in the elections in June.

Subhas is no stranger to the world of sports administration as he is the president of Cuesports Singapore. In his four years at the helm, he has slashed the $700,000 that CS owes to its creditors to $100,000. Singapore has also won several SEA and Asian Games medlas in snooker and billiard since his arrival at the helm.


‘I won’t run against Loh, but I’m not his puppet either’

(The Sunday Times, 25 April 2010)

Subhas Anandan will not throw his hat into the ring if incumbent Loh Lin Kok decides to stand for the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) presidency again.

‘I think our friendship is much more valuable than the presidency of the SAA,’ said Anandan, the 62-year-old president of Cuesports Singapore.

‘I will not sacrifice my friendship with him even for 10 presidencies. Lin Kok knows I will not stand against him. I think if I stand, he will step aside.’

The pair have known each other since their days at the then-University of Singapore law school in the 1960s.

Oil trader Tang Weng Fei, 56, the SAA chief between 2004 and 2006, has already formed a team to contest the biennial elections, which must be called by June.

Anandan is no stranger to sports administration, having held the reins of Cuesports Singapore since 2006.

Back then, the association was saddled with debts of about $700,000. It now owes about $100,000.

Under his tenure, the Republic’s snooker, pool and billiards players won two golds, three silvers and four bronze medals at the 2007 and 2009 South-east Asia Games.

If he wins the SAA election, the criminal lawyer wants to remove the ill-feeling that has built up between the SAA and Singapore Sports Council (SSC) in recent months and ‘start the reconciliation process’.

Anandan added: ‘The SSC knows I will not be a proxy for him (Loh). I am not that type of fellow who gives people the opportunity to say I’m a puppet.

‘If I do things, I’ll do it my way.’ 

Leonard Lim


My thoughts:

You have to hand it to crafty old Loh Lin Kok. He’s clearly been hard at work thinking of ways to ensure that the Tang Weng Fei-led team does not win this June’s elections.

And asking Subhas to come on board is a brilliant move since the veteran lawyer has proven his mettle at sports administration with his leadership at Cuesports Singapore.

There is, I hear, another reason why Loh is looking for someone to run in the elections. The fiercely loyal leader that he is, I hear that he is wracked with fear that the successful election of Tang and crew would mean the sacking of all his paid staff at the SAA.

I guess to lose office is one thing, but to cause the loss of other people’s ricebowls as  result of the loss of office is another altogether. (Whether or not these people are actually competent in the first place is another matter altogether, I guess)

What’s my take on all this?

Well, I am all for a electoral battle come June because I firmly believe that it is always good to have a contest.

But I am wondering who will make up Subhas’ team if he does throw his hat into the ring. As Tang indicated in today’s edition of The New Paper, we don’t know who will make up the rest of his team.

So my reading of the situation is this (and I would advise that you take this with a pinch of salt):

It sounds like a case of Loh asking Subhas to stand for the presidency IN HIS PLACE, and with HIS TEAM.

In other words, it does sound as though Loh has finally decided that since he is the person causing the most antagonism to the Singapore Sports Council, the best way to solve this situation is to bequeath his team to Subhas, and take himself out of the running.

Of course, if the make-up of the current SAA leadership is still offensive to the sporting powers, then Loh can always recommend a few names to Subhas, or Subhas can always choose a couple of his own trusted lieutenants, to show that the team is not entirely made up of Loh’s loyal officers.   

Maybe then the SAA affiliates, especially those who are sitting on the fence with regards to their vote —  as in keen to vote for Loh but fearful of reprisals from the sporting powers — can then be emboldened to vote for Subhas, and tilt the voting numbers towards Loh’s team (oops, I meant Subhas’ team, actually).

After all, they can always explain their choice by saying that Subhas’ team now presents the best of both worlds: a new credible leader, and a management team with experience in running athletics.

 What will then happen to Loh if Subhas’ team does win the election?

Well, I am sure that he will lie low for several months.

Then down the road, he will be invited to come back as a special adviser to the SAA, given his many years of experience and international clout, and to help Subhas, whose own schedule must be pretty packed as it is, giving him not as much time to spend on athletics as he would like.

And then the athletics scene will come full circle once again.

Dear readers, what are your thoughts on this?

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan  

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