Tag Archives: Singapore National Olympic Council

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.

JONATHAN WONG

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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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Why it may not be a good thing for Singapore sports if Low Teo Ping does run for the SAA presidency

The report:

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

Low to take plunge? (The Straits Times, 29 May 2010)

Outgoing sailing chief mulling approach to contest SAA elections

By Leonard Lim

OUTGOING sailing chief Low Teo Ping is considering running for the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) presidency.

The news is the latest twist in the tussle for the leadership of one of Singapore’s largest national sports associations, which is set to hold its highly-anticipated election on June 25.

Low’s entry into the fray brings to four the number of people who could be gunning for the presidency: Incumbent Loh Lin Kok, oil trader Tang Weng Fei, Low and prominent criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan.

Ironically, Low is already an adviser to Tang’s team, which was assembled in February to challenge the incumbent. However, the sailing chief is expected to withdraw from that team if he does decide to contest the SAA presidency.

Low, 65, is a well-known name in the sports fraternity. Apart from being the president of SingaporeSailing, he is also president of the Singapore Rugby Union, a council member of the Singapore Sports Council and a Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president. He is a vice-president of the International Sailing Federation as well.

It is understood that the retired banker, who declined comment, has been approached by some in the fraternity to take over from Loh.

In recent months, the SAA chief, a 62-year-old lawyer, has been under pressure from senior sports officials to step down because of athletics’ patchy track record at international competitions.

It is believed that Loh has confided to subordinates that he is happy to step aside if either Low or Anandan, 62, agree to run for office.

A keen observer of the local sports scene remarked: ‘One of the most important tasks for anyone who takes over from Lin Kok now is to mend fences with the Singapore Sports Council, after all the bad press and criticism of the sport recently.

‘Teo Ping, with his positions in SSC and SNOC, along with how he helped build sailing to where it is today, would be a good fit for that.’

Low had announced last week that he would relinquish the sailing presidency on June 28, when SingaporeSailing holds its own AGM.

Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan paid tribute to Low then, saying he had always found him to be ‘a reliable source of wise counsel’.

Loh remained coy when asked about Low, but chose to reply with a sailing analogy: ‘If I do hand the reins over, it must be to someone with a steady pair of hands, and someone I trust.’

As for Cuesports president Anandan, who had indicated a month ago that he was considering the position, he would only say: ‘I haven’t decided, I’m waiting for certain things to be decided first.’

Time is running out for the prospective candidates to make up their minds.

The election must be held by the end of next month and the SAA’s 21 affiliates need to be informed 21 days in advance.

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.

The SAA’s management committee will meet on Monday and is expected to endorse Loh’s proposed date of June 25 for the AGM.

Since last December’s South-east Asia Games in Laos, track and field has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

For instance, just two gold medals were garnered out of a total of 45 on offer in Laos. The SAA has also not received any government funding for over a year, after it was tardy in submitting key budget proposals to the SSC.

Loh has held the presidency since 1981, except for a break between 2004 and 2006, when the 56-year-old Tang took over.

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My thoughts:

Like angkujupi, and I am sure, many others who are taking a keen interest in the coming Singapore Athletic Association elections, I did a double take when I first read the above report about SingaporeSailing president Low Teo Ping being approached to run for office.

But to be honest I am more interested in knowing who were the people who approached him to run than in guessing whether he will eventually agree to do so.

Indeed, who are they? Are they from Loh Lin Kok’s camp? In other words, is he another person that Loh would prefer to take over his seat? Or are these people of some authority in the Singapore sports scene?

After all, they must be pretty powerful and have a certain amount of clout if they can make Low do a rethink about being Tang Weng Fei’s special advisor, and contemplate running for office himself?

And if indeed they are fairly powerful people, then the next question arises: what is so wrong about Tang as a candidate? What is wrong with the team he has assembled? Why do these people not want to see him helming Singapore athletics?

My other concern is that of Low being asked to serve as the head of yet another national sports body.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not casting aspersions on Low.

In fact, I take my hat off to him for the way he has turned Singapore into a world-class sailing nation, and for the way he has brought the Singapore Rugby Union back into the black a few years after it was hit by a $1.2 million embezzlement in 2005.

Almost the stuff of legends.

However, I do feel it speaks volumes of the lack of capable leadership in Singapore sports that a chap who is already the chief of two national sports associations and who also previously served as a key management figure in the Singapore Bowling Federation,  is now being asked to ‘save’ Singapore athletics.

And my fear is that if Low does agree to stand for office, and wins, it could deal a blow to the fledging spirit of grassroots volunteerism in Singapore sport.

I mean, the reason why Tang and his team came together to fight Loh was because they finally had enough of the way the sport is being run, because of their passion and love for the sport, and because of their desire to do something to lift athletics out of its present two-decades long doldrums.

So what if they all have an axe to grind with the current SAA leadership? Does this necessarily mean that they are in the fray for personal gain? Does it mean that they are not the right people to run for office?

So if indeed some powerful forces are asking Low to take part in the elections, and are willing to do whatever they can to parachute him into the fray, and into office at the last minute, then one must ask: what kind of message are they sending to the grassroots?

The other paragraph from the report that interested me was the comment made by ‘a keen observer of the local sports scene’ who has, conveniently, decided to remain anonymous.

He said: “One of the most important tasks for anyone who takes over from Lin Kok would be to mend fences with the Singapore Sports Council,  after all the bad press and criticism of the sport recently.

“Teo Ping, with his positions in the SSC and the SNOC, along with how he helped build sailing to where it is today, would be a good fit for that.”

I really don’t understand what this ‘keen observer” is trying to imply.

Is Tang’s team responsible for all the bad press and criticism that Singapore athletics has been suffering? Have they done anything in the past against the SSC that would require fence-mending?

The only cause of bad press for Tang’s team recently is Melvin Tan’s disagreements with national relays coach Hamkah Afik’s training schedule for the squad earlier this year, which resulted in Tan’s four runners deciding to stay away from relay training for a while (Tan is standing for the post of statistician in the elections).

Why would it be hard for Tang’s team to work with the SSC? They haven’t been in power, so doesn’t that mean they would be starting on a fresh page with the SSC if they are elected?

These are interesting times, and I eagerly wait to see the latest developments in this ongoing saga.

I hope we do eventually get to find out who approached Low to run for office, and I would be interested to find out the people who will make up the rest of his team.

Stay tuned.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Canada is second country to pull out of Youth Olympics swimming competition

Uh-oh, it looks like the Americans aren’t the only ones who will not be competing in the swimming competition of next year’s Youth Olympic Games.

The Canadians are following suit.

According to a report in The Straits Times today, Swimming Canada, the national body for the sport in the country, has decided that the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, which will be held in Hawaii from Aug 26-30, would be a more suitable competition for their top youth swimmers than the YOG.

No swimming for Canada and the US at next year's YOG

 What do they mean by that? Well, this is their explanation for not competing in the YOG:

After much deliberation Swimming Canada has determined that it is not strategically appropriate to attend the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

“There were many factors leading to this decision, amongst them being a conflict with the dates for our primary summer competition, the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.

Suffice to say the key reason for our decision was to ensure our athletes are exposed to the best possible competitive and developmental opportunity. We’re confident that the Junior Pan Pac’s will provide the challenges our athletes require.”

You can find out more at this link.

Back in September, it was reported that  USA Swimming decided to pull out its swimmers of the YOG because it preferred to send them to qualifying meetsfo the senior and Junior Pan Pacific Championships. It also said that it felt that the YOG was more a’world peace and education programme’, than it is about ‘high-level competition’.

 Since then, the Singapore National Olympic Council and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports have been at pains to stress that the YOG will feature high standards of competition. But it looks like the Canadians are not convinced.

Here’s something for us to ponder: if the US and Canada have decided to focus on the Junior Pan Pacific Championships instead of the YOG, then isn’t there the strong possibility that other countries that regularly compete in the Junior Pan Pac might do the same.

I checked out the list of competing nations at this year’s Junior Pan Pac which was held in Guam. The 14 countries included traditional powerhouses such as China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Here’s another thought: Even if these countries do send their swimmers to the YOG, how can we be sure that they will be the cream of their crop?

After all, the YOG has only allowed each country to send two boy and two girl swimmers. Who is to say that some of the countries competing in the unior Pan Pac might not be tempted to send their second-tier swimmers to the YOG to make up the numbers?

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Related posts:

28 Sept 2009: The US pulls out of YOG’s swiming competition…

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