Underperforming S'pore Athletics staff should take 20% pay cut, Soh Rui Yong says

Truer words have never been spoken.

Belmont Lay | September 20, 2017, 06:25 PM

Two-time SEA Games gold medallist marathoner Soh Rui Yong has called for underperforming administrators in his national sports association Singapore Athletics (SA) to take a pay cut instead.

This is the latest in the ongoing feud between the medal-winning athlete and the SA.

In response to Mothership queries, Soh, who won his first marathon gold in 2015 and defended it successfully in 2017, said:

You know what's funny? We're debating whether I should be donating 20 percent of my gold medal award money to Singapore Athletics. The real question should be whether underperforming SA administrators, paid S$3,000 to S$14,000 monthly, should be getting a 20 percent pay cut and we can channel those funds to training and development instead.

Not giving S$2,000 back to Singapore Athletics

According to The Straits Times on Wednesday, Sept. 20, Soh said he retained his gold medal in the 2017 SEA Games “without any coaching help from SA”.

As a result, he did not want to contribute 20 percent of his S$10,000 gold medal prize money back to SA.

He had recently sent a protest letter to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) to make his plan clear.

Under the SNOC’s terms and conditions, it is mandatory for all athletes to give 20 percent of their prize money to their National Sports Association (NSA) for the association’s training and development.

But Soh confirmed that the cheque he would receive will reflect S$8,000, with S$2,000 deducted automatically.

When queried how he plans to ensure the S$2,000 is credited back to him given his reluctance to give it to SA, Soh said: "That's the problem."

Rather give money elsewhere

Soh told ST he would rather the S$2,000 go to his American coach Ben Rosario who helped him with his training.

Soh also said the bulk of the funding he received to train for the SEA Games came from the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI).

However, SA told ST that Soh has been receiving a monthly allowance of S$1,200 from the association. This amounted to S$10,800 so far.

Soh disputes this figure, saying he has received S$7,200 thus far, with allowances for July, August and September not credited.

And even when the allowance was credited, it was not in a timely fashion. For example, before the start of the SEA Games, Soh said he only received S$3,600.

Another tranche of S$3,600 came in after the SEA Games. This leaves an outstanding of S$3,600.

Soh said: "Basically, administrators get their salaries paid on time, but athletes have to wait months of delay for their allowances."

In response to Soh's request, SA president Ho Mun Cheong was quoted in the media as saying he had no objections to Soh keeping the S$2,000, as long as SSI and SNOC agreed.

In response to media queries, SNOC said in a statement on Monday night, Sept. 18: “While we acknowledge that there are currently issues in Singapore Athletics to be ironed out, SA did support their athletes financially to prepare for the SEA Games.”

Public dispute

Soh's outspokenness was evident on Wednesday morning.

He made a post on his Facebook page claiming that SA has not spent any money on the salaries of distance coaches -- and yet he brought the gold medal back to Singapore.

Amount Singapore Athletics has spent on the salaries of sprints head coaches/technical directors since Nov 2014: over $400,000 (monthly salary of $10,000 - $14,000 for a head coach/technical director)

Total number of sprints gold medals won at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games: 1 (Shanti Pereria, 200m in 2015, coached by Margaret Oh - who is not paid a salary by Singapore Athletics)

Amount Singapore Athletics has spent on the salaries of distance coaches since Jan 2015: $0

Total number of distance gold medals won at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games: 2 (Soh Rui Yong, 2015 and 2017 Marathon)

Top photo via Soh Chui Lian