Two former Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) senior officials are currently locked in a legal tussle with World Taekwondo (WT), the sport's global governing body.
After resigning from their positions within the Singapore Taekwondo Federation earlier this year, former general manager Lim Teong Chin and his wife, former secretary-general Wong Liang Ming, have sent legal letters to WT as well as the STF, according to The Straits Times.
This latest development follows on from the suspension of the STF by both WT and the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), on May 8, 2019.
Conflict of interest and harassment
According to a Sep. 24 statement published on the STF's website, in meting out the suspension, the WT noted that it had found "evidence of violations of the WT Code of Ethics Articles 2 (Officials) and 9 (Conflict of Interest)" by Lim and Wong.
On May 21, Lim wrote to the WT requesting a hearing for himself and Wong.
WT responded on August 7 with a letter, reminding Lim that he remained under investigation and was still under a preliminary suspension.
A separate letter on August 8 informed Wong — who was also the former national team head coach — that she was being charged with the violation of two other articles of WT's ethics code.
This included Article 6 (Ban on Harassment) and Article 10 (Protection of Personal Rights).
The STF statement lists the articles as follows:
- Article 6 (Ban on Harassment): Participants in the Taekwondo Movement have a right to respect and to enjoy a safe and supportive sport environment. All forms of harassment, be it physical, moral, psychological, professional, or sexual are prohibited. Participants in the Taekwondo Movement are expected to be aware of WT’s Safeguarding Policy including its obligation to implement and report.
- Article 10 (Protection of Personal Rights): During the course of their Participants in the Taekwondo Movement shall ensure that the personal human rights of those persons whom they contact and with whom they deal are protected, respected and safeguarded.
The additional charges were issued after WT received further complaints and information about Wong's conduct.
Wong's refusal to participate
However, according to The Straits Times, Wong has since told WT that she would "cease to participate" in the world body's hearing on the charges against her.
This is because it had rejected her request for a three-man tribunal.
In a letter to the WT dated Sep. 25, Wong's lawyers said that a three-man tribunal was "essential" because of the "gravity of the allegations against (Wong) regarding her conduct... as a senior member of the STF and the complexity of the case".
The letter also stated Wong's intention to use Singaporean courts to "quash and/or set aside any findings made by WT against (Wong) that may be applied in Singapore".
Wong also sent a separate letter to the STF, refuting its Sep. 24 statement that Wong had violated article 6 (Band on Harassment) and Article 10 (Protection of Personal Rights).
The letter stated that it was inaccurate for STF to state her violation, as WT had not made any findings regarding the matter and a hearing had not been conducted.
She requested a "timely update" to the statement.
The Straits Times also reported that Wong's lawyers had themselves received a letter on Sep. 25 from Foxwood LLC.
In the letter, WT secretary-general Hoss Rafaty said that Wong's request for a three-man tribunal had been turned down as "WT evaluated the complexity of the case and decided that one arbitrator would suffice".
He added that WT's disciplinary actions and appeals code do "not give parties the possibility to challenge the number of arbitrators appointed by WT in a particular case".
"Is it a fair hearing?"
Speaking to The Straits Times, Wong said that she wanted to clear her name, while also casting aspersions on the integrity of WT's hearing process.
"At the end of the day, is it a fair hearing? It cannot be one (arbitrator)...this person is the judge, jury and executioner," she said.
Wong added that she could lose her livelihood if she was to be suspended by the WT.
"This would affect me greatly as I cannot participate in international events (sanctioned by WT) if I want to continue as a coach or referee, and I don't know if I will be allowed to coach in Singapore."
Closure for local athlete
Meanwhile, local taekwondo athlete Ng Ming Wei has announced the end of his own legal battle with the STF.
In a Mothership article from Mar. 24 that chronicled Ng's struggles with the STF, the national governing body had given their opinion that Ng's athletic achievements were "paltry".
"Notwithstanding the previous statement that my results were paltry, the STF now takes the position that I am a commendable athlete whose athletic performance should not be downplayed," wrote Ng.
Ng added that an article by the STF which accused unnamed athletes of being ungrateful had been deleted.
A joint statement was also published on the STF's website yesterday (Sep. 27).
"We are pleased to inform our members and the public at large that any and all disputes between us have been settled amicably," it said.
"Moving forward, the Federation will work closely with Ming Wei, our members and all of our national athletes for the betterment of Taekwondo in Singapore."
Top image from Singapore Taekwondo Federation Facebook and Taekwondowon Facebook