Updates on the TAS saga.

  1. My letter to the Sunday Times forum page has been published. Not in its entirety though – the sarcastic bits were toned down – but the message has remained intact. Kudos to the editors for a good job.
  2. Ashiq Idris has also responded to my e-mail. His reply below:

From: Ashiq Idris <ashiq@triathlonsingapore.org>
Date: February 6, 2009 11:37:30 AM GMT+08:00
To: Laremy Lee
Subject: Response to your Email
Reply-To: ashiq@triathlonsingapore.org

Dear Laremy,

I am writing to you in response to your email to the Association dated 2 Feb 2009.  Here I would like to clarify on behalf of the Association that the Association had commissioned an independent Panel of Inquiry to look into the case.  Upon completing their inquiry they have submitted their report to the Association which includes their recommendation on the punishment to be imposed.  The TAS Management Committee agreed to adopt the recommendation and subsequently the two athletes were notified on the decision.

I would also like to clarify that the infringement was “Disobeying instruction of the coach” and the punishment given was imposed on the said infringement.  Disobeying instruction is something the Association see very seriously and for that matter most other National Sports Associations.

I hope I have clarify the reason why they were being punished in contrary to what had been reported in the local media and speculated out of proportion.

I would like to thank you for your comments.

Ashiq Idris

Is the case closed? I don’t know, but I still remain firm on my stand: although rules must be followed, this ‘rule’ in particular is archaic and has no place in our day and age. Also, some points to be clarified:

  • This isn’t about sex, or indecency, by the way, although many people have mistaken it to be so. Please do not be misled. It’s about jurisprudence, I think, but please let me know if I am using the term wrongly.
  • The media did not blow the matter out of proportion. The Straits Times merely reported on the truth, and they did a good job, might I add. The only thing that has been blown out of proportion is the nature and the severity of the punishment – if one is needed at all.
  • I think the above two points merely go to show that Singaporeans need a very good grounding in media literacy, and I’m glad the education system is making an attempt to bridge this gap.

In any case, I hope Dinah and Ying Ren keep on training. It would be nice to see them on the global stage someday, because these are two Singaporeans I’d be very proud to support and cheer my lungs out for.

Please revisit decision to ban athletes.

From: Laremy Lee
Date: February 2, 2009 12:04:04 AM GMT+08:00
To: contact@triathlonsingapore.org, mark.tay@triathlonsingapore.org, david.hoong@triathlonsingapore.org
Cc: jwang@sph.com.sg, suntimes@sph.com.sg
Subject: Please revisit decision to ban athletes.

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am writing in to you to express my disappointment at the Triathlon Association of Singapore’s (TAS’s) decision to bar Dinah Chan and Mok Ying Ren from competition. While I acknowledge that their being caught in close proximity goes against the code of conduct laid out by the TAS, I believe the Association should revisit its decision, along with its code of conduct governing relations between athletes.

First, the TAS should be clear about what the exact purpose of this particular code was for. The best guess that I can hazard is that it was put in place to prevent female and male athletes from engaging in relations that might prove to be a conflict of interest to the TAS e.g. an unwanted pregnancy, the transmission of STIs, etc. As it has been stated that the two athletes were not in a compromising position, their safety was obviously not compromised either. Acting according to the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law merely shows up the TAS to be an Association concerned with enacting punitive measures as opposed to enacting rehabilitative measures – the latter being a more effective means to correcting perceived waywardness, in my humble opinion.

With regard to the code of conduct, I think it should be scrapped. Societal mores have shifted significantly since the 19th century – which I assume was when the code of conduct has been written – and the majority of Singaporeans do not frown upon couples being in close proximity to one another, unless they must be segregated for religious reasons. The last time I checked, the TAS was a National Sports Association, and not a religious organisation. Nevertheless, if the code of conduct was put in place for the reasons I gathered above, then perhaps I should reiterate that it has been proven that education is a more effective tool against these perceived threats than abstinence is. A simple Google search can corroborate my statement.

Enforcing the ban is a selfish decision, because it deprives two athletes with vast stores of talent from maximising their potential. I urge the TAS to more progressive in its mindset, and to act quickly to both reverse its decision to ban the two athletes, and to scrap this particular code before it is too late. Merely standing by a decision or a code because it is the way things have always been done does not show that one has guts and gumption – it results in quite the opposite, truthfully.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Laremy LEE (Mr)