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INTERNAL strife at the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) has led to the calling of a special general meeting (SGM) on Thursday - a development that could end with the club president and his deputy stripped of their positions.
But if the members at the meeting vote against these proposed ousters, the club will turn the tables on the seven general committee members who had signed the Oct 26 requisition for the SGM; a no-confidence vote will be held against the seven.
This was detailed in a supplementary notice dated Nov 5 and sent to the club's 4,000-plus members. It was signed by the SCC's general manager and secretary, Nigel Stearns.
The seven committee members named in the supplementary notice are Richard Stapley-Oh, Hamish Christie, Paul Lawless, George Abraham, Anwar Gafoor, Joyce Foster and Cynthia Robless. If the seven office bearers - part of the current 12-strong general committee - fail to survive the no-confidence vote, they will be removed from their respective positions with immediate effect.
The ongoing unhappiness among a group of SCC members appears to stem from the way club president Baldev Singh and his deputy Brian Teo have conducted themselves since their election to their respective posts in April.
High on the list of grievances is the plan by the pair to reduce the number of "sports members" in the club. Sports members pay a fixed annual fee of S$2,500, plus a S$103 monthly subscription fee. The other category of members, ordinary members, fork out the prevailing market price for a membership, which now stands at around S$20,000, on top of the S$103 monthly subscription.
Sports members are those accepted as members if they can play the sport they apply for at a standard "that will promote the performance of the Sports Section" in that sport. SCC has 13 sections for sports such as cricket, golf, football, rugby and tennis. Mr Stapley-Oh, one of the seven committee members who signed the SGM requisition, is the current chairman of the Games Control Board.
The club has, however, been deliberating a proposal to tighten the criteria for approving new sports members; the proposal is to accept individuals as sports members only if they make it into the club's first two teams, in order to justify the lower joining fee.
Referring to this proposed change in membership structure, now the subject of a White Paper, a club member described it as "heavy-handed" of Mr Singh to be making such big plans for the club after having been at the helm for just over six months.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, another club member told The Business Times that Mr Singh and Mr Teo typically make decisions for the club without first taking into account the sentiment of the majority.
This member also expressed disappointment that other members have opted to hold an SGM to deal with this "divisive" matter, rather than have an open dialogue so that all the different views can be aired, and a decision taken.
"This is an unpleasant situation, and it's not good for the club's reputation that it has gone to the press. There should have been a better way to address these issues," said the member.
Another member defended Mr Singh, arguing that the members should not question his credibility and ability to run the club, given that he stood for elections and won fairly.
For now, all eyes will be on the outcome of the Nov 12 SGM, and whether there will be a need to call for fresh elections for another president and deputy president.
The SCC's rules state that the quorum for any SGM must include "not less than 75 per cent" of the number of members who signed the requisition for the meeting. In this case, 56 members signed the requisition.
The SCC, established in 1852, is one of the top sports and social clubs in Singapore. Its clubhouse sits on a plot of prime land on Connaught Drive on the south end of the Padang.
The club is the second-oldest sports club here, newer than the Singapore Turf Club - previously known as the Singapore Sporting Club - by a decade.