SINGAPORE — Gojek Singapore general manager Lien Choong Luen was elected as the new Singapore Athletics (SA) president during the sports association’s annual general meeting on Friday (25 September).
Lien, 43, defeated lawyer Edmond Pereira, 70, 14 votes to three votes from SA’s affiliates during the election at Nexus Auditorium in Cuppage Plaza.
His entire nine-man Team Ground Up slate was also voted into the management committee, with each of them receiving at least 14 of the 17 valid votes.
The position each elected member will take up on the committee will be confirmed after its first meeting. There will also be two non-elected members of the committee: the executive director and an athletes' commission representative.
“We are really humbled and very grateful for the trust placed in us by the affiliates,” said Lien, who will serve a two-year term together with his team.
“And now really, what I’ve said to the team is it’s time to get to work to put into place the plans that we’ve outlined. It’s all action, no more talk.”
Turbulent period for troubled association
This will be Lien’s first tenure as SA president. He had previously held posts at Triathlon Singapore and the Singapore Squash Rackets Association.
He takes over the helm from outgoing chief Tang Weng Fei, who had announced he would not seek re-election.
For Pereira, a veteran in the Singapore athletics scene, it was his fourth unsuccessful bid to be elected as SA president, after previous attempts in 1984, 2000 and 2006.
SA has endured a turbulent period in recent years, with negative headlines such as leaked WhatsApp chats appearing to show plots against coaches; high-profile disputes between athletes; and abrupt resignations of national coaches and management committee members after internal disputes.
The troubles have affected athletes’ performances, culminating in a poor 2019 SEA Games showing in which they failed to win a single gold medal in the biennial event for the first time since 1991.
The association is still embroiled in legal proceedings with two-time SEA Games marathon gold medallist Soh Rui Yong over comments made regarding his omission from the 2019 Games.
Transparency and accountability
Ahead of the elections, Lien had promised to run the troubled national sports association with transparency and accountability, and without conflict of interest. He also revealed that the team have already secured S$100,000 in donations to fund their plans.
When asked by Yahoo News Singapore on how he plans to unite the track and field community and get the athletes back to winning honours for Singapore, Lien said,”Rebuilding trust is a slow process and happens one at a time, it means us reaching out, speaking to individuals, speaking to the teams and hearing what they need, as well as seeing where their points of agreement.
“We will do it with sincerity and with full, genuine ability to listen to people.”
The team elected into SA’s management committee are: Lien Choong Luen (president), Gary Yeo, Joe Yap, Marinda Teo, Arthur Lin, Belinda Neo, Chen Siyuan, Jonathan Tan and Kelvin Ang.
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