SICC member loses suit over suspension

A golfer who was suspended for a month by Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) after she had a loud argument with another player has failed in her bid to have the decision quashed in court.

Ms Glenis Yong had argued that the SICC's general committee was wrong to impose the ban as there was no express finding of guilt against her by its disciplinary panel.

District judge Loo Ngan Chor found no valid grounds and dismissed her claim on Monday. He ordered $10,000 in costs to be paid to the club.

The judge made it clear the court's role was not to review the merits of the decision but to check if she had been given due process by the committee which complied with the rules of natural justice.

Ms Yong had been charged by the club for arguing loudly with another woman, which disturbed other members at the club's 19th Hole, an area in its Bukit clubhouse, in April 2005.

She subsequently appeared before a five-member disciplinary panel chaired by Mr S. Rada-krishnan which found it was the other party who provoked the incident.

The panel recommended that Ms Yong be given a stern warning but did not state in writing that she was found guilty.

However, the club's general committee decided on a suspension instead.

The other member was suspended for three months.

Ms Yong, who was represented by lawyer S.H. Almenoar, argued that the "stern warning" was itself wrong in law as she was not found guilty.

But SICC's lawyer Ramesh Selvaraj countered that the warning recommended was itself a punishment and showed the panel had found Ms Yong guilty as charged.

The judge noted that within the SICC, a stern warning is a recognised sanction for an errant member as one of its lesser penalties.

"Hence as a matter of substance, as opposed to form, I find there was a finding of guilt by the disciplinary committee on which basis lay the recommendation for the plaintiff to be warned."

He noted the disciplinary panel's report dwelt on mitigating factors, adding: "Their reference to mitigation suggested to me a conscious and implicit acceptance of the plaintiff's guilt."

He found the process had given her a fair hearing and the general committee, as "master of its own house" and subject to the limits of fairness, was acting within its powers to raise the penalty.

Mr Almenoar said his client is studying the judgment grounds and considering an appeal.

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