Two-time SEA GAmes gold medallist, Soh Rui Yong (Image from RunSohFast.com)

Soh Rui Yong: “I am still willing to give it a try to meet Singapore Athletics, but without Malik’s attendance”

National marathoner Soh Rui Yong took to his Facebook today (20 August) to highlight that he has now decided to give Singapore Athletics (SA) a shot and is willing to meet them, but without its Executive Director Malik Aljunied’s attendance.

The marathoner mentioned that following the whole Ashley Liew Sportsmanship tale and the 2019 Sea Games selection saga, he tried his level best to be reasonable, but noted that he still has to “protect the values of accountability and transparency”.

As such, referring to his refusal for mediation with SA only after they provides basis for their claims against him, Mr Soh wrote:

On 16 August 2019, Singapore Athletics (SA) replied to us a second time “confirming that (I) did breach the Athlete’s Code of Conduct”, but again failed to provide any justification or basis to the defamatory allegations they made against me through a statement to the media. SA also proposed for us to “(meet) to discuss and resolve the matter amicably”.

In his post, Mr Soh said that he initially was considering SA’s proposal to meet, but he changed his mind after reading the “latest post by Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) employee and Singapore Athletics Executive Director Malik Aljunied on Saturday night, 17 August 2019”.

“Much as I wish to reconcile with SA, I don’t understand how both parties can do so under such circumstances and when people within the association such as Malik are so plainly against me,” he wrote.

According to the marathoner, Mr Malik’s post on Saturday was “defamatory”. Based on the screenshots that Mr Soh provided, it appears that Mr Malik posted a picture with two little girls on his Facebook account, and he wrote that he hoped at least one of them would take up 400m hurdles in the future.

However, in his caption, he also stated, “Do be careful of the Marathoner, it could end up messing up your mind and heart”, allegedly referring to Mr Soh.

If that is not all, a netizen asked in the comment section of Mr Malik’s post, in what sense did the marathoner mess up his mind and heart. Mr Malik replied that he was pointing to “one particular runner so far” who has “messed up his sense of logic and reason beyond repair”.

Mr Malik added, “It seemed to have drained him of empathy, compassion, gratitude and the capability to love others”.

Looking at Mr Malik’s apparently defamatory post, the marathoner, represented by Clarence Lun of Foxwood LLC, said he will get his lawyers to “assess damages and to do the necessary at law”, adding that they have also issued the Executive Director a claim for defamation.

Hoping to put an end to this saga

Stating in his website RunSohFast, Mr Soh said that this whole problem has dragged for almost three weeks now, and he just wants “closure and for the authorities to be accountable and transparent in their decision making”.

He added that he also wants SA to provide “satisfactory reasons” on why he was not selected for the SEA Games.

If that’s not all, he also hope that SA will come forth and provide him with basis on how he breached the “Athletes’ Code of Conduct”, as well as “a public apology on wording to be agreed by me (Mr Soh) if SA has no basis to their allegations”.

What’s happened so far?

2 August 2019: SA made a few allegations towards Mr Soh in the media without providing basis. They noted that the marathoner had committed a series of purported “transgressions” without laying out any explanation and details.

7 August 2019: Mr Soh commenced a ‘legal battle’ with the SA and SNOC, serving the letters to Singapore Athletics Executive Director, Malik Aljunied and Secretary-General of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), Chris Chan asking for them to provide details of the so-called transgressions they claimed he has made which led to their decision to exclude him from this years SEA Games in Manila.

13 August 2019: The SA replied to Mr Soh’s legal letter, but the sportsman said that the reply did not provide the explanations and details he had requested, instead the sporting body only offered a “without prejudice meeting” to mediate.

Following that, Mr Soh rejected the SA’s request to on the reason that “they have failed to give basis to their defamatory allegations or clarify their position in this matter, seemingly shying away from providing basis and trying to settle this behind closed doors after making defamatory allegations”.

14 August 2019: A second legal letter was sent from Mr Soh’s solicitors to the SA to ask again for clarification on the allegations made.

The letter also said, “Until such time when our client is able to review your client’s substantive response then will our client be able to consider if a meeting between parties, if set up, will be purposeful and fruitful”.

On his Facebook, Mr Soh invited SA’s executive director Mr Aljunied to respond and substantiate the claims he made or alternatively, to retract his statements and make a written apology if those claims were made without basis.

He also questioned if Mr Aljunied is paid by the SNOC and whether that might have affected the decision making process of the SA in any way. Mr Soh then shared an ST article which reported on the Mr Aljunied’s appointment to SA by the SNOC back in June 2019.

Mr Soh, who also shared all these legal letters on his website RunSohFast, concluded by saying, “Once these facts are set out, we can then work towards a purposeful and fruitful meeting, and work towards a closure on this saga.”