Athletics: Loh fires back

Claim: Veteran athletics official Loh Chan Pew denies he has an axe to grind against the official he had complained about.

In a shocking turn of events last week, Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) vice-president (organising and competition) Loh Chan Pew was suspended until June by the management committee.

He was cited after he "misbehaved" at an SAA exco meeting last month. He then sent a complaint to the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), making allegations against a fellow senior SAA official.

The former sprinter is not taking the judgment lying down.

The 69-year-old told The New Paper on Monday that both he and Steven Lee - the SAA vice-president (training and selection), who has also been suspended - will file an appeal with the SAA's management committee.

Lee had allegedly contacted the sport's world governing body IAAF - without track and field chief Tang Weng Fei's knowledge - about SAA's operating procedures.

Under the SAA constitution, the duo have the right to appeal their suspension within 10 days of receiving a registered notice.

While he declined to share details of what the senior SAA official did wrong, Loh told TNP on Monday: "I will not say what he (the alleged offender) did, right now.

"I will whack everything in the appeal which I will send in.

"I want to be fairly treated. I'm the whistle blower.

"The beauty is that the alleged person is not suspended, but the complainant is.

"Yes, Loh Chan Pew is hot-tempered and aggressive... But I have to clarify because it's my reputation."Loh gave his side of the story on Monday regarding the allegations made against him that have appeared in the press recently.

1. He was aggressive at an exco meeting

Tang said Loh had been "very aggressive" during an exco meeting held two weeks after last December's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

The confrontation with an exco member almost escalated to blows.

But Loh shot back: "I was aggressive? I'm also aggressive talking to you now.

"This is my style of talking.

"In what other way was I aggressive? Did I punch him (the exco member)?

"Even if there was something that happened, it takes two hands to clap."

Loh claimed that the exco member had raised his voice against him first, and he was only responding.

He added that he was upset that the exco had "agreed" last September to ask the senior official he had complained about to leave, only to reverse the decision last month. Tang denies this. (See report at right).

2. He did not want to relinquish high performance chief post

Loh allegedly became upset at the meeting when he was asked to step down from his post as interim high performance chief, which he had assumed since last March.

But he denied this.

C Kunalan had vacated the role abruptly in January last year and, after several approaches, Loh said he agreed to take over in March, accepting only a token payment as he wanted to remain a vice-president at SAA.

He said: "I read that I stormed out after I was asked to relinquish my post. That was not what happened.

"If I wanted the post so much, I would have taken over the first time.

"I'm 69. Why would I want this glamorous post?

"If I wanted, I would have taken the money.

"But I wanted to help the association and hold the fort."

3. He has an axe to grind

Tang told TNP of his anguish at making the decision to suspend Loh, a long-time friend, but insisted he would not be allowed to go on "a personal crusade to hurt the association".

Loh denies he has an axe to grind with the official he complained about.

He said: "Personal? How?

"I've worked with him (the official) overseas, gone drinking, karaoke... and I've got personal (problems) with him?

"The way they are treating me, it's as though they have something personal against me."

Loh added: "I feel very sad it (the situation) has ended up this way.

"He (Tang) and I have known each other for 41 years.

"We were very good friends, and we went through so many battles and obstacles together.

"But I have to rebut him."

msazali@sph.com.sg

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