SINGAPORE: Former Workers’ Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong weighed in again on the exclusion of national marathoner Soh Rui Yong from the athletes sent to the Asian Games, saying he “sees no sense” in “punishing” the runner.

Mr Yee then quoted founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who said that “Singapore needs more mavericks, geniuses, and independent thinkers,” and added, “But I guess we are not ready.”

“I see no sense in punishing SRY by not sending him to the Games despite consistently hitting the qualifying marks. Sports personalities come in all shapes and sizes.

We don’t always agree with what they say online but I find it petty to exclude him when by merits, he more than qualified. I hope officials don’t kill off sports. I wish someone higher than these officials can intervene. This is getting very tiring and disheartening to watch,” wrote Mr Yee in a recent Facebook post.

See also  Undeterred by 'underdogs' tag, SG Squash hunts for upset at Asian Games

The Asian Games are being held this year in Hangzhou, China, from Sept 23 to Oct 8.

Mr Yee also put up two screenshots along with his post, one from Mr Lee’s December 2003 quote from Malaysian news website The Star and another from a Facebook post from the runner himself.

Mr Yee had already commented on Soh’s inclusion from the Asian Games lineup in June, writing,  “Just let sports people do their work and stop stalking them on social media. Let him who has no sin cast the first stone. So tired of such petty bans, over social media comments which most people would have missed out anyway if not for some on the throne casting judgements. I have no clue what the offending comments even are. We don’t need them to be saints, just athletes.”

Soh, a back-to-back gold medalist in the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games marathons and the holder of national records for four races, wrote on Sept 21, “Singapore Athletics has announced our team for the Asian Games. Today, I want to officially share with my supporters that I won’t be donning our national colors in Hangzhou, China.”

See also  Soh Rui Yong says he received a “letter of intimidation” from Singapore Athletics

He also listed his qualifying times for the marathon and the 10,000-metre events but said that despite appealing twice, he was not selected for the Asian Games by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

Interestingly, I did represent Singapore at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia after a special appeal earlier this year.

This means that, till now, Singapore has had no male representation in the Asian Games 10,000m and marathon, something that will continue to the 2026 Asian Games at least. SNOC attributes my non-selection to ‘conduct’ issues.

Many will recall that in July this year, ex-SNOC President Tan Chuan-Jin resigned due to the discovery of his extramarital affair, which dated back to at least November 2020. While I wish him well, the irony isn’t lost given the body he led had saw fit to judge my ‘conduct’.”

Soh added that in July, he appealed yet again to SNOC, with backing from Singapore Athletics, but to no avail.

See also  Soh Rui Yong sets new records at Valencia Half Marathon

He went on to send good wishes to the Singapore contingent at the games and his rivals for the marathon and 5,000 and 10,000-metre races from different countries. /TISG

Yee Jenn Jong on Soh Rui Yong’s exclusion from Asian Games line-up: We don’t need them to be saints, just athletes