Two senior Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) officials were found by taekwondo's global body World Taekwondo (WT) to have breached parts of the WT Code of Ethics.
This is according to a report by The Straits Times (ST).
The two officials in question are STF secretary-general Wong Liang Ming and STF general manager Lim Teong Chin, who are married to each other.
WT said in a letter dated May 8 and addressed to STF acting president David Koh, that it found "evidence of violations of the WT Code of Ethics Articles 2 (Officials) and 9 (Conflict of Interest)" by both Wong and Lim.
The letter gives STF 14 days from May 8 to submit a written request for a hearing.
WT received complaints about Wong's conduct at Korea Open 2018
According to ST, WT secretary-general Hoss Rafaty had sent two other emails to Lim in December 2018 and February 2019 that noted the complaints from "multiple parties" that Wong's conduct at the Korea Open in July 2018 was "inappropriate and unbecoming (of) an official at a WT event".
Although Wong was accredited as a volunteer for the Korea Open, she acted as "acting referee chairperson" at the competition.
In addition, she also issued instructions to the technical officials regarding the field of play.
Lim responded by saying that he had asked Wong to help him with administrative duties, and that he had not delegated any of his authority as chief referee to her.
But while the ST report had noted that Wong was registered as a "volunteer" at the Korea Open, Wong had revealed to Mothership in a previous correspondence that she was the head coach for kyorugi (sparring) at that time.
She had taken over the position after the team's former coach, Jang Hee-jae, left in February 2018.
"Conflict-of-interest" for Wong & Lim
Rafaty added that members of WT's juridical and ethics committee were "of the opinion that the relationship between (Lim and Wong), as husband and wife working on the field of play together at the same event, created a high conflict-of-interest risk".
He also said that WT's technical committee would draw up conflict-of-interest guidelines for WT events, and that WT "discourages husband/wife or other close relationships from working as officials at the same events".
STF suspended by WT
Previously, on Wednesday, May 8, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) has suspended the STF as its affiliate.
The STF has also been suspended by WT.
In light of the suspension, the SNOC has formed a major games preparation committee for taekwondo led by SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan and Singapore Sports Institute chief Toh Boon Yi.
The committee, in conjunction with Sport Singapore (SportSG), will oversee the preparations of athletes for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games to be held in the Philippines at the end of the year.
SNOC added that concerned athletes can contact [email protected] for more information.
Taekwondo athletes respond
Ng Ming Wei, a bronze medallist at the 2015 SEA Games, told Mothership that "if the allegations are true, then it is all the more important that the STF be renewed".
Another taekwondo athlete on the national team, who declined to be named for fear of repercussions, also told Mothership that while he welcomes the suspension of the STF, he is concerned about the uncertainty this has caused in the taekwondo community in Singapore.
He hopes the new committee will know what to do, especially regarding the national team, and also approach the selection of athletes for competitions with "fair play and judgement".
STF to hold emergency meeting
In response to its suspension, the STF's management committee would be calling for an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) next Sunday, May 19, according to a notice posted on its website.
[STF has since changed the wording of "Emergency General Meeting" to "Extraordinary General Meeting".]
It also encouraged all affiliate members to "send at least one representative" to the meeting.
In addition, STF said its "smooth running", even after the “departure of 7 Management members”, was “disrupted by the announcements of WT and SNOC” regarding the suspension of its membership.
Top image via Singapore Taekwondo Federation Facebook and Ng Ming Wei Facebook