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Mon, Apr 19, 2010
The Straits Times
Fajar's under-fire judo coach resigns

By Jeff Ang

FAJAR Secondary School's judo coach, Yeo Chin Seng, has resigned.

He relinquished his post yesterday following an announcement by the Ministry of Education (MOE) that the Singapore School Sports Council (SSSC) would work with the Singapore Judo Federation (SJF) and the school to take disciplinary action against him.

Judo competition fracas
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(Photos: ST)
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» Fajar judokas stage sit-down protest

In a statement to the media, the ministry said that Yeo had 'behaved inappropriately and acted contrary to the values that we seek to uphold'.

It acted following the dramatic scenes that unfolded at the Schools National Judo Championships on Tuesday.

Then, Yeo had to be restrained by onlookers when he confronted the convener of the tournament, Hougang Secondary's Gerard Fernandez, to protest the disqualification of one of his charges.

He had also ordered Fajar's five-man team to stage a sit-down protest on the competition mat.

Yeo, 57, met the principal of Fajar, Ng Shok Yan, yesterday to discuss the incident. He tendered his resignation, which took immediate effect, at the meeting.

Said Yeo, who had coached Fajar for six years: 'I've always had a good relationship with the school and its management. It was never my intention to cause trouble for anyone.

'I apologised to the principal, teachers and students of the school for giving them adverse publicity because of my actions.'

However, the former South-east Asia Games judo bronze medallist defended himself, saying: 'My actions were done in the heat of the moment.

'At that time, all I could think of was that my students' rights had been violated. As a coach, it is my duty to protect my students and defend their right to compete.'

But he agreed that his actions might have been overboard.

'Things might not have turned out in the best way but I still believe that all this unhappiness could have been avoided if only I had been given a chance to address my concerns. The communication between the judo convener and the coaches could have been better.'

There could be further bad news for the beleaguered coach. The SJF has announced that it intends to conduct its own probe into Tuesday's incident.

Parga Singh, president of the SJF, said: 'The federation understands that the MOE will be conducting or has conducted its own investigation into the matter. We intend to request a copy of its report, from which an independent panel will be set up to look into the findings.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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