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S’pore Sepak Takraw files suit over ‘wrongful termination’

The Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation (Perses) filed a civil suit in the High Court on June 11 through its lawyers to “seek redress” against the International Sepak Takraw Federation (Istaf), Asian Sepak Takraw Federation (Astaf) and former president Abdul Halim Kader.

Halim was Perses president from 2000 to 2013 and served as general secretary from 2013 to 2015 – a role he also held from 1982 to 1999 – before taking the helm again from 2015 to 2019. He is currently Istaf’s secretary-general and Astaf president.

In a June 26 statement signed by secretary-general Zahid Abdul Aziz, Perses said: “Central to the suit is the wrongful termination of Perses from Istaf and Astaf and the events leading up to said wrongful termination.

“As a result of the wrongful termination of Perses, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) has terminated Perses’ membership with SNOC and Perses has had its status as the national sports association (NSA) for the sport of sepak takraw in Singapore brought into question.

“Perses seeks redress from the Singapore courts for the wrongs occasioned to it by the named defendants.”

Zahid told The Straits Times that the association is seeking reinstatement of its Istaf and Astaf membership, declarations and orders, including an order for the 2021 Astaf election results to be null and void.

It is also asking for damages to be assessed by the court.

Perses is represented by Dentons Rodyk and the case conference with the registrar is on July 17.

The dispute between the parties began in November 2023, when Istaf announced the termination of Perses’ membership following an executive committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur, then citing “grave misconduct within Perses’ leadership”.

The decision meant that Singapore’s athletes would be barred from competing at the world and Asian championships, major Games – such as the SEA and Asian Games – and tournaments sanctioned by the international and Asian bodies.

It also led to Perses losing its NSA status, which impacts funding from the Government.

Perses president Nasri Haron and Zahid also received 12- and seven-year suspensions respectively from Astaf.

ST understands that their respective bans were extended by two years from a ruling on misconduct charges in November 2022, as they did not pay the reimbursement for previous disciplinary proceedings.

In its Nov 28, 2023 statement, Istaf said that the duo’s continued involvement in Perses operations, including their participation in its annual general meeting on Oct 14 “showed a blatant disregard for Astaf’s governance policies” and contravened several of Perses’ constitutional articles.

These include one which states that “board members shall not be serving a suspension or ban from the Istaf or other regulatory authorities”.

Zahid had then called Istaf’s actions unconstitutional, and that Perses was exploring its legal options.

Responding to the latest development, Halim, who was ousted by Nasri in Perses’ elections in 2019, called the legal proceedings “baseless”, adding that he will contest Perses’ claims.

He noted that Istaf convened an emergency executive committee meeting at the Thailand National Olympic Committee headquarters on June 14 to discuss the matter.

He added: “This matter is currently before the courts, where it will be properly adjudicated. Public debate or scrutiny of this case is inappropriate and could be considered sub judice.

“Any attempts to do so will be met with swift legal action.

“We have been advised not to comment on the specifics of the case as it awaits judgment by the High Court.

“As the president of Astaf and secretary-general of Istaf, both registered in Singapore, it is my duty to uphold the dignity, integrity and reputation of both federations.

“We assure all stakeholders that Istaf, Astaf and I will defend against these claims with the utmost determination and impartiality.”

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