Kaplan's a stag

Kaplan's a stag
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: SAA president Tang Weng Fei (centre) announces his line-up, which includes (from left) C Kunalan, Lee Yan Lin, Patrick Pak and Ron Koh, for the association’s coming elections on June 23.

Upon returning home from a business trip to Bangkok on Tuesday night, Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) president Tang Weng Fei was greeted by news that he would face a challenge at next month's elections.

Former national runner Sng Sze Hiang has stated his intention to run for track and field's top post, and has assembled a team that included two incumbent vice-presidents of the SAA, Loh Chan Pew and Steven Lee, as well as another veteran official, Ho Mun Cheong, to fight for other posts in the management committee.

But Tang is not fazed by the challenge.

At a press conference at his Collyer Quay office yesterday morning, the oil trader shared details of his team's manifesto ahead of the June 23 elections, where the candidate who receives the support of a majority of the 22 SAA affiliate members wins.

Said Tang: "My message (to affiliates) is to judge us on what we've done over the last four years.

"It's also important to look at the long-term renewal of leadership within the SAA."


When asked to rate his team's performance since he assumed leadership in June 2010, Tang said a "seven or eight" out of 10, or an A grade.

He admitted the SAA had not managed the secretariat well, after it had been plagued by spats and resignations over the years. "That's why I've been thinking: where did we go wrong," he said.

"The mistake we made, I think, was that we relied too much on (senior) ex-athletes with baggage.

"Being self-centred and egoistic - that's why they were champions - there are bound to be differences and conflicts. The only way forward is for people with no baggage to lead."

Tang worked on two solutions to try and remedy the problem.

One: Bring fresh faces into the management committee - like 30-year-old Ron Koh, 32-year-old Jezreel Mok and 27-year-old Lee Yan Lin.

Two: Bring in an individual in a role similar to that of a general manager (GM), which would allow current GM James Wong to focus on marketing and attract sponsors for the association.

It would also allow newly-appointed development and performance chief Asmah Hanim to better focus on the technical aspects of her role.

"I've spoken to Richard (Seow, Sport Singapore chairman) and (Sport Singapore CEO Lim) Teck Yin a couple of times about this," said Tang.

"We discussed this with our exco and they said it's a good idea. At the end of it, they (Sport Singapore) have to decide, but it's a possible option."

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