Loh rebuts claims, will appeal

Branded "aggressive" and "violent", Loh Chan Pew was suspended as vice-president (organising and competition) of the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA), but the veteran official will appeal against his punishment.

As he mulls over the draft of his three-page letter to explain his side of the story, he protested his innocence when contacted by The Straits Times.

The 67-year-old was booted out of the association a week ago after he was deemed to have undermined the authority of the executive committee.

But he said he was unable to defend himself at the meeting - which meted the suspensions - as he was hospitalised for internal bleeding in the stomach then.

Loh, who resigned from the post of interim chief of sports development and performance earlier this month, also denied claims that he was angry that his ambition to hold that post until next year's SEA Games was thwarted.

Said Loh, who took up the position in April: "I never wanted the high-performance post. Tang came to me to ask me to take that post and I didn't even want it to be printed on my name card."

He added that he did not claim the job's monthly pay of about $7,000 to $8,000, instead opting for an allowance of $2,000.

However, he had to give up one of his school coaching jobs which paid him $1,500 monthly.

Yesterday, SAA president Tang Weng Fei reiterated that Loh had acted aggressively at a management committee meeting, held at his home, last month.

Tang said: "He has the right to appeal. Let him do it.

"He was aggressive and violent in the sanctity of my home and my family was there to witness it."

Fellow vice-president William Wong (finance) bore the brunt of Loh's outburst at the meeting. He said: "He wanted to whack me. He stood up and showed his fist to me and he shouted.

"I felt humiliated as he called me 'despicable'."

Prior to his suspension, Loh also held the post of chairman of officials and served as a technical official at local meets.

He blasted: "I came to his (Tang's rescue) so many times as I held so many posts. How can he suspend me?"

In addition, the experienced coach and administrator wants an independent investigation conducted by neutral third parties to look into his case.

Loh's suspension comes after he had sent out a complaint letter to the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) alleging irregularities concerning a top official in the SAA.

The official had allegedly submitted excessive mileage claims for personal use of an office vehicle and also given false information to SSC.

Fellow vice-president Steven Lee (training and selection), was also suspended until the association's annual general meeting and executive committee election in June, after he contacted the sport's world governing body, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to clarify SAA operating procedures.

The SAA deemed that Lee had overstepped his authority as he contacted the IAAF without the association's knowledge.

The SSC has reserved its comments on the alleged irregularities within the SAA.

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