SINGAPORE – National track and field body Singapore Athletics (SA) passed a host of amendments to its constitution on Monday (July 13) night, after a “robust” five-hour extraordinary general meeting (EOGM).
However, two proposed changes remain unresolved.
One is the move to keep proceedings in management committee meetings confidential; currently, members can inspect them if they give one week’s notice to SA’s honorary secretary
The other is the removal of voting rights for SA’s athletes commission representative, which was introduced in 2018.
Both proposals had sparked concerns among the fraternity ahead of the EOGM.
Two SA affiliates, Wings Athletic Club and Club Zoom, had expressed concerns about transparency and accountability with the proposal about minutes being kept confidential.
Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong, who sued SA for defamation last year over its statement on his non-selection for the 2019 edition of the Games, said in a Facebook post on Monday that proposing to remove voting rights for the athletes’ commission representative shows that SA “does not care for the opinions of its athletes”.
Sources told The Straits Times that a disagreement over voting procedures was the reason for the non-resolution. SA’s constitution states that alteration or deletions to the charter can be passed only “with consent of two-thirds of voting members present”.
After two of the 20 members that attended the EOGM abstained from voting, those in assembly were divided. SA’s two legal advisers present held differing views. One said that the two-thirds majority applied to all 20 affiliates, which means a total of 14 votes is needed to carry an amendment. The other believed the two-thirds majority should apply only to the 18 who voted, which means only 12 votes are needed.
In response to ST queries, SA president Tang Weng Fei, who chaired the meeting, confirmed that the two unresolved articles required the definition of the two-thirds majority rule, and said that SA would seek “independent legal opinion” on the matter.
Separately, he also said that a proposed new criteria for affiliated membership – namely that clubs must align their constitutions with that of SA’s and submit their annual reports, general meeting minutes and financial reports to the NSA – was removed. Some clubs had felt the proposal was unnecessary, given that they are already required to submit the documents to the Registry of Societies.
On the EOGM, Tang said: “It was a robust meeting, which should be the case.It was nice to see everyone actively participating in discussions on how to take SA forward. This bodes well for the future of the sport in Singapore.”
While some amendments to the constitution, such as the use of electronic voting system for the election of office bearers, lay the ground for SA’s elections in September, others – like the move to keep management committee minutes confidential, removing the voting right of the athletes’ commission representative, and introducing a four-year term for elected officials up from the current two – were not directly linked.
Tang had told ST on Sunday that “most of the proposed amendments are made in accordance” with guidelines from SportSG, the requirements of the Registry of Societies and the Commissioner of Charities.
A SportSG spokesman on Monday said that it “supports the efforts by national sport associations (NSAs) to professionalise and strengthen their governance”. It had provided guidance to the athletics body through a set of governance principles for NSAs and a template of a model constitution.
But the spokesman added: “We have given our views on their proposed amendments and requested (that SA) share with us the revised version.
“SportSG has not reviewed the latest amendments SA has circulated to its members.”
The spokesman also said that SportSG did not mandate specific changes to SA.
Addressing the lengthier term for elected SA officials, the SportSG spokesman said that while the national sports agency “supports a four-year term for an NSA Board, which is aligned with the major Games cycles”, he stressed that “each NSA determines the appropriate term”.
He also added that “SportSG also does not prescribe management practices of how minutes of meeting are kept or disclosed, except to emphasise the need for proper record keeping”.
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