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Singapore Taekwondo Association (STA)

Singapore Taekwondo Association (STA)


Lately there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Singapore Taekwondo Federation thanks to a couple who see themselves as the new “King and Queen” of taekwondo in the “Lion City”.

 

Singapore was introduced to taekwondo for the first time in 1962 when the Korean Master Kim Bok Man, a 5th degree black belt, gave a spectacular demonstration of the art at a small garage in Kuching Road.

Taekwondo attracted a lot of attention in those early days and quickly became a popular martial art in Singapore.

Since those early days, many taekwondo devotees and enthusiasts have worked hard to pave the foundation for the development of Singapore taekwondo.

In 2005 when a man named Milan Kwee took the helm as the President things started to change more dramatically for Singapore Taekwondo Federation.

With a charismatic personality and a relaxed head-on attitude, he charmed Taekwondo world and put Singapore on the world taekwondo map.

All the hard work paid off and Milan Kwee eventually became a WT Council member in 2010.

The taekwondo ship in Singapore wassailing smoothly or so it appeared until very unexpectedly on October 9th,2018 the Singapore Taekwondo Association website announced some surprising news; Milan Kwee has stepped down as the president of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation after nearly a decade and a half!

According to the STA Site, Mr. Kwee who was also recently elected as one of the four elected Singapore National Olympic Council vice-presidents had submitted his resignation during a monthly management meeting on September 18.

The news stunned many!

The official resignation announcement came on September 29 during the national sports association's annual general meeting, saying he wanted to make way for "young, more energetic and smarter" members to take over and did not wish to "hog his position" after more than a decade in charge.

Following Kwee's resignation, there was a flurry of departures. First vice-president Ho Mun Wai, honorary treasurer Juliana Seow, and assistant honorary treasurer Ng Lee Noi also announced their resignation from the Singapore Taekwondo Federation which showed the troubles of STA run much deeper than the “Pretenders at the Helm”

On October 5th there was an emergency meeting called resulting in more resignations but this time the reason given was because the management committee had decided to invite Kwee back as an adviser to the STF and according to the STF statement on its website, the invitation to Kwee "did not go well" with them.

The statement added that Kwee rejected the STF's offer on Oct 8 – an expected reply by the resigning president.

"I would like to spend more time with my grandson and allow the younger (members) an opportunity to work, without any hindrance from me whatsoever, to bring STF to greater heights of success," Kwee said in a statement.

Subsequently, the STF's managing committee announced the selection of David Koh as the acting president, Lee Thiam Poh as its honorary treasurer and Sebastian Lee as its assistant honorary treasurer respectively.

Since the October resignation, of Milan Kwee things, have not been very calm for the new management.

There have been many rumors circulating about the newly crowned “Royal Couple” from backstabbing the ex-President to accusations of misappropriation use of funds but one thing is certain: they are considered by a great number of the Singapore taekwondo family to be the main conspirators and on trial on social media.

All this attention in addition to the athletes’ discontent with the “Dream Team” performance together with concerns finally forced the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) to issue a statement in regards to the handling of the events in the past few months by the Singapore Taekwondo Association.

The statement said that the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) will set up a major Games preparation committee for taekwondo after the Singapore Taekwondo Federation was suspended by world governing body World Taekwondo (WT).

 This means that the Games preparation committee will take over and oversee all measures to prepare taekwondo athletes for this year's SEA Games in the Philippines.

In addition, SNOC also suspended the STF as its affiliate with immediate effect!

 

This will result in closer cooperation with the national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) to manage and conduct the selection and training of the taekwondo athletes for the South East Asian Games.

The SNOC said in a statement on May 8 that it was contacted by WT last October to "express concern over the recent developments at the STF after the mass resignations of seven STF management committee members and how the matter was handled."

WT then sought the SNOC's assistance to review the situation.

 Adding that it has "grave concerns in the governance and high-performance management of the STF", the SNOC added: "It is regretful that the state of affairs at the STF has languished to its current situation. The foremost priority is to restore proper, fair and transparent systems in the governance and high-performance management of Singapore taekwondo.

 "We hope the entire taekwondo fraternity will work together with the SNOC and SportSG in moving the sport forward."

 According to WT statutes, a national association's membership with the world body can be suspended for the following five reasons:

 - If its related National Olympic Committee is suspended by the International Olympic Committee

 - Failure to fulfill its financial or other outstanding obligations to the WT

- acting in gross violation or repeated violations of the WT statutes, the competition rules, or other rules or regulations.

- Pursuant to a recommendation of the judicial committee for poor governance, a failure of governance or a clear and unjustifiable lack of representation

- Failure to communicate with the WT and to participate in WT activities and events (inactivity) for a period of one year or more.

Suspended members will no longer be able to attend official meetings or participate in all WT official events. They will also not be eligible to receive funds from WT.

 

A local newspaper, The Straits Times, released that WT had written to STF last week, requesting the STF management to step down or for the national sports association to face suspension over unspecified issues, with the Singapore body responding earlier this week.

Taekwondo exponent Ng Ming Wei, a bronze medalist at the 2015 SEA Games, welcomed the news and told ST he is "heartened by (WT and the SNOC's) proactive stance and deep concern for our national athletes."

The 24-year-old added: "I hope this suspension will be followed up with further positive action designed specifically with the welfare and development of the players in mind." 

The STF's suspension is the latest blow for the association - a WT affiliate since 1975 - after recent spats with members of its fraternity.

Earlier this month, some current and former athletes expressed their dissatisfaction with the way their training with the national squad was conducted, according to local news site Mothership. Their grievances include a lack of close coaching and clear training plans.

Last October, the STF saw a mass exodus of management committee members, which included long-time president Milan Kwee.