Tag Archives: SIngapore Sports Council

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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Where are your principles, Singapore Badminton Association?


The report:

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


Suspended Hendra may play

(The Straits Times, 04 Aug 2010)

By Lin Xinyi

THE Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) may compromise on a ban it had imposed on national shuttler Hendra Wijaya, 25.

The doubles specialist is currently serving a three-month suspension from all competitions for displaying poor attitude during training this year.

The suspension, dealt by the SBA executive committee, was supposed to end on Aug 24. But now Hendra appears likely to return to competitive action a day earlier in the Yonex-Sunrise Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships.

In the latest list of qualifiers for the Aug 23-29 tournament in Paris, Hendra and brother Hendri Kurniawan Saputra, 29, are confirmed entries for the men’s doubles event.

Edwin Pang, the SBA’s chief executive, said: ‘We had hoped that, by the time Hendra was scheduled to play his first match, his suspension would be over.’

However, based on the tentative schedule, the opening round of the men’s doubles begins on Aug 23.

This means the SBA’s development and selection sub-committee will have to decide by next week whether Hendra will play. Pang conceded that there is a dilemma.

‘In making the decision, we’ll have to consider that letting him play may be perceived as not keeping strictly to the letter of the ban,’ he said.

‘On the other hand, this is an important tournament. The coaches do not want this technicality – the difference of one day – to affect Singapore’s chances of putting up a good show.’

Pang added that Hendra had served a period of unofficial suspension before his official suspension kicked in on May 24.

The player has already missed a number of tournaments, including the Li-Ning Singapore Open and Djarum Indonesia Open Super Series events.

His absence in world-ranking events has seen his doubles ranking drop 20 rungs from No. 22. Regardless, Hendra and Hendri, the 2007 SEA Games bronze medallists, are still recognised as Singapore’s top men’s doubles pairing.

Meanwhile, Zhang Beiwen – the other national shuttler whose three-month suspension owing to ill-discipline also started on May 24 – will definitely miss the world championships.

Her entry in the women’s singles event was withdrawn by the SBA last month. Zhang’s suspension also excludes her from training.

Said Pang: ‘Luan Ching (the singles chief coach) has no way of ensuring that Beiwen trains under his supervision. Based on that, he was not able to recommend her for selection.

‘However, Hendra has been performing adequately in training. Not only in terms of form and fitness but also his attitude, for Eng Hian (the doubles chief coach) to include him in the squad.’


My thoughts:

I think I can safely guess at what the Singapore Badminton Association’s decision is going to be eventually.

They will lift the suspension on Hendra and let him play in the World Championships, simply because they do not want to upset Singapore’s chances of doing well in the tournament.

And if and when that happens, my already-poor estimation of the SBA will drop a further notch.

Look, if you can’t even discipline your players properly, if you have to do it calculatingly, with one eye on the tournaments that the player will not end up missing, then, it really doesn’t speak well of your office, does it?

Seriously, what sort of message are you sending to your other players who will be watching on with interest?

And we know why the SBA needs to chalk up good results at the World Championships — so that they live up to their KPIs and deliverables to the Singapore Sports Council, and ensure that their level of funding from the SSC for the next financial workyear will not be affected.

Some people may accuse me of having a lack of compassion, or of being inflexible, perhaps even of missing the forest for the trees.

I say that in school, and in life, I was taught to stick to my principles and values, and never to compromise on them.

Please lah, SBA, if there is a message to be sent in the severity of the punishment to Hendra, then please, make sure that message comes out loud and clear.

If he has to feel the pain, if he has to miss out on one of the biggest competitions in the career of a paid professional badminton player, well, then I say too bad. He should have thought of the consequences before he decided to start showing attitude at training.

And so, to the SBA, I say, deal the punishment like a man.

There should be no ifs and buts about it. Because what is at stake is your reputation.

At the end of the day, people are only going to think that you guys are gutless clowns for not having the courage to stick to your guns, opting instead to soften your stand so as to justify your pursuit of the Foreign Talent Scheme and ensure that your level of public funding is not affected.

Seriously, where is the pride in that?

Finally, kudos to The Straits Times for exposing this. I am absolutely sure it would have all been conveniently swept under the carpet at the national body if the intrepid reporter hadn’t gone about digging for information.

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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