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New leader for badminton body

The Straits Times by LIM SAY HENG

There will be a new leader at the helm of the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) when the fraternity gathers for its annual general meeting on Saturday.

Current president Tan Kian Chew has decided not to stand again after his two-year term, paving the way for a new leader to guide badminton towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Straits Times understands that former Nominated Member of Parliament Lawrence Leow, 60, who is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Crescendas Group, is set to replace Tan.

He chairs the Singapore Business Federation's (SBF) Small and Medium Enterprises committee and is vice-chairman of its Asean Business Group. In 2016, he was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year (diversified industries).

Leow is a known face in the badminton community, having served in the previous SBA leadership.

Singapore Labour Foundation chief executive Tan, 65, told ST in an e-mail reply: "I have served the SBA for more than 14 years... it is important for a younger person to take over the position of leadership and lead SBA into a new chapter.

"This is succession planning."

Tan, who was SBA vice-president from 2000 to 2006 and its secretary-general from 2006 to 2010, cited the association's co-development of the sport's multi-year plan with the Singapore Sports Institute over the last two years as his "most important achievement".

The plan addresses the supply and development of talented athletes, and the SBA's financial sustainability, he added.

"The plan will ensure that the SBA has proper systems to bring in good athletes and develop them in a systematic way to achieve our ultimate dream of winning medals at important occasions like the Olympics, SEA Games and the BWF (Badminton World Federation) international-sanctioned competitions," he said, without going into details.

He also noted that Chinese sports brand Li-Ning had extended its sponsorship of the SBA for $5 million over the next four years earlier this year.

His tenure was also marked by the departure of several key staff.

National chief coach Chua Yong Joo, assistant national singles coach and 2011 SEA Games women's singles champion Fu Mingtian left the fold last September, along with national singles coach Ding Chao.

Chief executive Donald Koh and Chew Keet Hou, the director of team administration, also left earlier this year.

Current committee member and 1983 SEA Games men's singles champion Wong Shoon Keat, who is seeking to retain his seat, said: "The president (Tan) told us that the next president is someone who is very passionate and loves sport a lot, that he has connections (in badminton) and can garner financial support (for the association)."

But he added: "The players must always come first - be it their development, welfare or post-career opportunities - so we just hope that the best people can be there to look after them."