Athletics: SAA clears James Wong

That was the conclusion of the Singapore Athletic Association's (SAA) three-member board of inquiry yesterday, on allegations made against general manager James Wong.

Wong (above), a 10-time South-east Asia champion, had been accused by SAA vice-president (organising and competition) Loh Chan Pew to have been involved in irregular practices.

Three allegations were made. Firstly, that Wong had submitted excessive mileage claims last December

Secondly, that there was a conflict of interest when his wife, Jana Lauren, was selected by IAAF RDC-Jakarta to head a coaching course in Indonesia.

And finally, that there was a conflict of interest when Wong used his position with the SAA to help with a tug-of-war event at Teck Ghee CSC, where he is also the chairman.

Speaking to The New Paper last night, SAA president Tang Weng Fei said that all three allegations were dismissed by the board after their investigations.

The three board members were SAA vice-president (finance) William Wong, honorary treasurer Cheng Heng Tan and legal adviser Clarence Lun.



Said Tang: "The board concluded that the mileage claims were not excessive, as they were within Wong's remuneration package, which entitles him up to $500 claims a month.

"Wong's claims in December came up to $208. He was in Myanmar for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games for nine days that month, but even so, after working things out, the claims were reasonable."

On the second point, Tang stated that the IAAF RDC-Jakarta had invited Lauren on their own volition, without any influence by Wong in his capacity as SAA general manager.

In relation to the third charge, the board found that it was proper for the SAA to have supported the tug-of-war event, congruent to their commitment to sports at grassroots level.

Crucially, the SAA had no financial interest in the affair.

"I have submitted the board's findings to the Sport Singapore for them to decide and act on the next step," said Tang.

"After all, it was SSC which instructed me to conduct the inquiry."

The SAA had earlier suspended Loh and vice-president (training and selection) Steven Lee over incidents surrounding the Wong affair.

Loh was suspended by the SAA after claiming that the veteran administrator had misbehaved at a management committee meeting on Feb 18.

Lee, meanwhile, was disciplined for contacting the sport's world governing body IAAF - without Tang's knowledge - about SAA's operating procedures

Loh then sent a complaint to the SSC, alleging Wong had, among other things, submitted excessive mileage claims after using the official vehicle and was thus was involved in irregular practices.

Earlier this month, a three-man appeals panel, chaired by Singapore Rugby Union chief Low Teo Ping, found that the SAA's action to suspend Loh and Lee was "not robust enough in accordance with due process" of the SAA constitution.

This article was published on May 16 in The New Paper.

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