A three-hour long audio recording of the association’s extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) started to make its rounds on 13 July 2020, as the group and its members were reviewing its constitution.
The Singapore Athletics Association (SA) has since released a statement, condemning the leak and further opening investigations into its source.
Speaking to The Straits Times, SA president Tang Weng Fei has said that it was reiterated and emphasised multiple times and “made clear repeatedly” that any of the association’s meetings and proceedings are highly private and confidential.
Affiliate members attending the virtual meeting were made aware of this.
“There were strict professional instructions and conditions provided to the members before the EOGM, and reiterated at least twice during the EOGM, but the professional standards were not adhered to by certain members,” he said.
“Actions will have to be taken to make those who were responsible, account for their conduct, as confidential information was imparted (by all attending) on the common understanding and obligation of confidence.”
During the EOGM, 20 of the association’s 23 affiliate members, as well as 15 other associate members, attended a meeting which lasted around five hours.
As per the contents of the clip, Tang himself was addressing a question from honorary secretary of Wings Athletics Club. The SA had suggested a removal of their voting rights from its athletes’ commission representatives.
This, along with other proposed changes, were several that were raised during the meeting, which elicited concerns from some clubs even prior to the EOGM.
Notably, the clip was thereafter reposted on social media by Soh Rui Yong, a national marathoner, who famously sued SA for defamation earlier last year. The marathoner felt their statement on his non-selection for the 2019 edition of the SEA Games in the Phillippines was unwarranted.
In his Facebook post, Soh questions the proposed changes to the SA’s constitution, of which were made by Tang.
In another Facebook update on 3 August, Soh posted an update regarding his lawsuit against the SA:
“During a hearing before the Singapore High Court this morning, the Court ordered costs of $2,500 in my favour, to be paid by Singapore Athletics (SA).”
The leak comes after the SA was embroiled in a sexual misconduct case in the sport. Former veteran coach Loh Siang Piow, 75, was found guilty in June 2020 for molestation and abuse of a teenage athlete on several occasions.
In 2013, Loh had sexually abused the then 18-year-old victim under the guise of a sports massage to ease her cramps. This happened on two occasions at Tampines Stadium.
The SA has reiterated that it strives to construct safe sporting environments for athletes, citing the introduction of several measures that has been implemented ever since its new management committee was formed in 2018. It had downsized the size of its committee subsequently to prevent nominees from infighting.
The association has also been strengthening the appropriate channels utilised for any potential misconduct in the future, working closely with Sport Singapore to provide education and awareness.
Tang, when probed for comments on the guilty verdict, only said that Loh “contributed significantly over the years as an athlete, coach and administrator”.
Having never encountered any cases of abuse or harassment in her 16 years of representing Singapore, three-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu, 28, reminds that vigilance is key.
“There might possibly be cases of under-reporting, considering how sexual assault victims everywhere normally find it hard to speak out. I think that (Loh’s) case will encourage people to speak up on these kinds of experiences.”