New leader tipped for STTA

New leader tipped for STTA
STTA chief Lee Bee Wah (left) is set to relinquish her post to Ellen Lee in September.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's most successful sport is set to go through a change of leadership, with Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Lee Bee Wah likely to step down at its biennial general meeting in September.

The Straits Times understands that the 53-year-old Nee Soon South MP, while still eligible for another two-year term as chief, has lined up fellow MP Ellen Lee (Sembawang) to take over the mantle.

The STTA president, who was elected in July 2008, has long been vocal about her search for a successor.

When asked last Sunday about the possible change in leadership, she said: "Succession planning has always been high on my leadership agenda for the STTA.

"It will be important that the good work which we have been doing continues."

Her potential successor has already begun to attend STTA meetings and confirmed that a run for presidency is something she is mulling over.

"I have been approached and am thinking about it," Lee told The Straits Times last Sunday.

"I must say that I'm quite flattered. I'm grateful that Bee Wah thinks that I can do it, but it's still a big 'if'."

She was also quick to note that due process must be followed. She said: "There is still an election process which is fair, and a procedure which we have to respect.

It very well depends on the membership and who they have confidence in."

Should Lee be elected, it would be the 56-year-old lawyer's first foray into sports.

She added: "Bee Wah's shoes are too big to fill. Table tennis is one of the most high-profile sports in Singapore and (that status) is well-deserved.

"I still have a long way to go to observe. The association is already doing very well now and I don't think the status quo will change very much."

Lee, who is also deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, is likely to be assisted by another MP, Alex Yam (Choa Chu Kang).

Having also joined in during STTA meetings, he said his involvement for now is looking at helping the association in fund-raising.

"Bee Wah has done a fantastic job, and whoever is going to take over from her has got to sprain his or her ankle a bit to fit the shoe," Yam joked.

"Whatever happens, she still has her current term to finish."

Lee's tenure has marked the most successful years in Singapore table tennis.

At the Beijing Games, the women's team ended the Republic's 48-year wait for an Olympic medal when they won a silver.

They then pulled off the "Miracle in Moscow" in 2010, upsetting powerhouses China at the World Team Table Tennis Championships to be crowned world champions for the first time.

Their achievement ended China's stranglehold on the trophy since 1993.

At London in 2012, Feng Tianwei and Co. made it another landmark Olympics for Singapore when they won two bronze medals in the team event and singles.

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