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Netizens slam SNOC’s ‘nitpicking’ of Soh Rui Yong’s case, accusing them of trying to make a mountain out of a molehill

SINGAPORE — Recently, local, long-distance runner Soh Rui Yong was once again excluded by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) from representing Singapore in sports.

Soh was deprived of the opportunity to contest in the upcoming Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China, from 23 September 23 to 8 October.

Soh, a two-time SEA Games marathon champion, had earlier returned to representing Singapore at the Cambodia SEA Games after his appeal was finally granted by SNOC, securing a silver medal in the 10,000m race. Soh had not been selected to represent Singapore since 2019 following several public clashes with SNOC and its officials.

Despite meeting the Asian Games qualifying mark in the same distance, Soh’s name was absent from the SNOC’s latest list of successful appeals.

A spokesman for the SNOC confirmed to the Straits Times that Soh’s nomination by Singapore Athletics (SA) was considered and ultimately rejected.

The SNOC has claimed that Soh failed to honour commitments made to the council, including those following his participation at the Cambodia 2023 SEA Games.

They provided a 30-page document detailing the problematic posts from March to May 2023 and a six-page document on Soh’s comments made on a podcast by Shasi Kumar, a former professional footballer, as the Straits Times has reported.

Regarding the podcast, SNOC took issues with matters including Soh’s comment on religion, his use of an expletive during a marathon anecdote, joking about a teammate’s emotional attachment to the national anthem, his reflection on reasons for non-selection in a previous SEAG, and discussions on sportsmanship.

SNOC also had concerns about Soh’s remarks on code of conduct rules, past controversies, personal interactions, and criticism of certain social media accounts.

It raised concerns over 23 posts made by Soh between March and May 2023.

For example, SNOC took issue with Soh’s criticism of his fellow runner Ashley Liew, his actions of cutting holes in his singlet during the 2017 SEA Games, his response to a comment about taxpayer funding, and his references to controversies surrounding his non-selection.

In an Instagram post where Soh appeared in a photo with Workers’ Party’s Jamus Lim, a comment tagged Tan Chuan-Jin, asking whether he had unblocked Soh. Soh responded, “I prefer not to speak, if I speak I’m in big trouble.”

Netizens questioned why penalize Soh for what they considered to be trivial remarks

However, upon seeing the news, numerous netizens took to The Straits Times’ Facebook post to express their confusion and questioned why the SNOC would penalize Soh for what they considered to be trivial remarks.

For instance, one netizen highlighted the contrast that on the one hand government encourages citizens to be entrepreneurial and “think out of the box”, but at the same time, they seem to suppress those who speak out and don’t conform to the established norms.

“SNOC playing the rank and ego game and showing all athletes who is their boss, ” the comment wrote.

Another netizen expressed his surprise at the extent of scrutiny given to the runner, adding that instead of excluding Soh, he should be allowed to compete in the Asian Games, as facing stronger competitors would naturally humble Soh.

One comment suggested that the extensive 30-page document indicates a lack of strong, valid reasons to justify Soh’s denial.

“Trying to make a mountain out of a molehill”

Other netizens expressed their view on the SNOC’s list, stating that they found it to be nitpicking and an attempt to blow minor issues out of proportion.

A netizen sarcastically advises Soh to “start praising the SNOC in every social media post”

Another netizen offered sarcastic advice to Soh, suggesting that he should learn a lesson and start praising the SNOC in every social media post to improve his chances of winning a gold medal for Singapore.

Netizens called out SNOC’s behaviour of policing online behavior of athletes as “childish and kiddy”

Others criticized the SNOC for what they perceived as “policing” the online behaviour of athletes:

A netizen also expressed strong disapproval of the SNOC, describing their behaviour as childish and kiddy.

He reflects a sense of embarrassment and cringes at the idea of having individuals with such characteristics leading the national sports body.

However, another individual commended the SNOC for taking a strong stance, arguing that allowing someone like Soh, whom they considered a “loose cannon”, to be part of the team would only encourage “rebellion” among other athletes.

The netizen refuted the comment and emphasized that respect is something that is earned, not demanded, unless in an enforced structure like the army.

Former NCMP urged SNOC to focus on athletic achievements rather than social media conduct

Earlier, Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Yee Jenn Jong, urged the SNOC to focus on athletic achievements rather than social media conduct.

“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 judgments. ”

“I have no clue what the offending comments even are. We don’t need them to be saints, just athletes,” said Mr. Yee on his Facebook page.

Teo Soh Lung, an activist in Singapore, expressed her disbelief at the SNOC’s decision, describing it as “simply absurd” and suggesting political interference in sports.

Ms Teo questioned the SNOC’s reference to supporting and rehabilitating Soh, sarcastically suggesting that they wanted him to apologize to a politician.

“Rehabilitate what? Advise him to apologise to the politician in SNOC? Come on. Taxpayers want SNOC to send the best runner to the Asian Games.”


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