My 28th Birthday Message to my supporters, Ashley Liew and SNOC.
Updated: Mar 28
Thank you to all who have supported me in the battle for truth and justice.
The to and fro social media battle between those seeking the truth and those that seek to hide it has got really heated and sometimes confusing over the last few days (thanks to vague statements put out by the Singapore National Olympic Council and Singapore Athletics to distract from the main points), so the purpose of this blog post is to clarify certain facts and bring us back to focus on the main point of discussion.
I'm writing this on my birthday today, and first, I want say a big thank you to the individual KM Chia who started this petition: https://www.change.org/p/singapore-national-olympic-council-reinstate-singapore-athlete-soh-rui-yong-for-sea-games. We need more men like him with the courage to start a movement for what they believe in.
Now, I will address the Singapore National Olympic Council: Let’s not kid ourselves. Everything that’s happened the past few days is a result of me speaking up (as far as I'm aware - the threats from you, via Singapore Athletics Executive Director Malik Aljunied, that I would be taken off the team only started after).
At this point it should be noted that Malik Aljunied is seconded to Singapore Athletics by the Singapore National Olympic Council: https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/singapore-athletics-to-appoint-malik-aljunied-as-its-new-executive-director-from-july-1. I guess that at least partially explains his behaviour here: https://www.facebook.com/sohruiyong/posts/2308331432575827
The telling of the truth on Ashley Liew was not to the liking of some officials. All I did was post the truth on FB: https://www.facebook.com/internationalfairplay/photos/a.868130596574126/1833290336724809/?type=1&theater
Ashley and SNOC escalated it via legal letters thereafter, with me responding to note SNOC's inability to remain neutral and conduct a proper investigation on the truth:
Those are the facts.
To SNOC: Don’t bring up "conduct" or "attitude", or in the case of SNOC Athletes Commisson head, Mark Chay, not "adhering to the athletes' code of conduct... at the last SEA Games" to try and mask the facts.
The SNOC did not mention specific examples when publicly denouncing my conduct and attitude, which borders on defamation. I can only try and guess which examples they are talking about:
1) Protesting the blackout period rule which I felt was unjust to athletes with personal sponsorship commitments to uphold and promoting personal sponsors on social media during the blackout period. That issue was dealt with in 2017 (I received a warning letter) and never mentioned again until now all of a sudden.
2) Cutting holes in my racing singlet to deal with the heat and humidity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the 2017 SEA Games Marathon. Not sure why this constitutes bad attitude or conduct since it is not against competition rules and is done often by elite athletes on the world stage. Maybe our sports officials need to wake up and get with modern times and modern science? In any case, never mentioned again until now all of a sudden.
3) The protesting of making my 20% donation of my $10,000 cash reward for a SEA games gold medal to Singapore Athletics after the 2017 SEA Games. Reasons given here: https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/sea-games-champ-soh-rui-yong-objects-to-giving-part-of-map-award-to-singapore-athletics-says
This was settled in 2017 with me eventually donating the 20% under protest.
4) Calling the SNOC biased and failing to properly investigate: https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/athletics-soh-rui-yong-blasts-snoc-says-he-is-happy-dispute-with-fellow-marathoner-ashley-liew
I laid out the facts. I welcomed SNOC to challenge and clarify the facts that I had laid out, but they did not do so: https://www.facebook.com/sohruiyong/posts/2229330117142626
In any case, my disagreement with Ashley Liew in which I dispute the version laid out by Ashley in relation to the 2015 SEA Games Marathon, is before the courts for adjudication.
Therefore, SNOC's use all of the above as possible reasons in their decision making is wrong, as Jose Raymond put in this well-weighed piece on the issue:
The outpouring of support on social media and via the change.org petition is heartening. It shows that lots of people have the intelligence to think logically and have a objective view of justice.
I'm not blind to the facts, however - ultimately, even if 100,000 people sign this petition, it doesn't matter. By SNOC rules, the only people to decide whether or not I represent Singapore at major games are:
Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin (Speaker of Parliament)
Mr. Ng Ser Miang
Dr. Tan Eng Liang Mrs. Jessie Phua Mr. Milan Kwee Adj. A/Prof. Benedict Tan
Mr. Edwin Lee
Ms. Juliana Seow Mr. Abdul Halim Bin Kader Mr. Lawrence Leow
Mr. Lim Teck Yin (SportSG) Mr. Mark Chay (Chairman, Athletes’ Commission) Mrs. Tan Chen Kee (Ministry of Education)
So as long as the team above feels that I'm not fit to represent Singapore at the 2019 SEA Games, that will remain the case. Of course I fundamentally disagree with their decision, but frankly, I'm not going to fight them over it. I have lots of other marathons I'd love to run and lots of other things I'd like to dedicate my life to rather than dealing with people who choose to be ostriches who bury their heads in the ground, rather than solving problems like intelligent, reasonable human beings.
However, it would be nice if the SNOC comes to its senses once and for all, and finally conduct a proper investigation into Ashley Liew's story. Even if we find that he didn't slow down as much as he initially claimed and officials were led to believe, so what? People make mistakes all the time and it's better to say sorry and correct mistakes rather than dig your heels in and bury your head in the ground like an ostrich.
If I can have birthday requests, it would be for the following:
1) To certain sporting leaders, especially those in SNOC: Come to your senses - it's ok to be wrong and apologise. It's not ok to continue insisting that you're right without conducting a proper investigation into issues being pointed out. As the Chinese idiom goes, paper cannot cover fire. I apologise for any hurt feelings I may have caused in the past but if you are willing, let's communicate and move on together.
2) To everyone who has supported me in one way or another: I love you 3000. For those who might have taken the chance to bash the People's Action Party (PAP) (SNOC President Tan Chuan-Jin is a PAP member), I hope we can leave politics out of it and focus on the matter at hand, that a proper investigation was not held, and the SNOC appears to be using SEA Games selection to get back at me.
3) To Ashley Liew: If you are willing, I welcome you to get in contact with me so we can meet up and talk this through. I do want to figure out why exactly you said you slowed down to wait for us, and why I didn't see what you claimed to have done. Perhaps we can work it out without going to the courts, or this matter getting any uglier for Singapore sports.
4) To my loved ones, my awesomely supportive colleagues at TheSmartLocal.com and main sponsors ASICS and Garmin: Thank you for being in my corner, and I look forward to achieving success on an even greater stage for us and for Singapore, with or without the blessings of the SNOC.
At the end of the day, SNOC might be able to stop me from going to the SEA Games, but I don't represent the SNOC, I represent Singapore. Having already made history for Singapore by winning the SEA Games Marathon back-to-back, I look forward to exploring my marathon running beyond the SEA Games, and hope that one day I can achieve success at a higher level that Singaporeans can be proud of.
If there's one thing marathon running and any of my life mentors have taught me, it is to fight the good fight, and never give up till you finish the race.
Majulah Singapura, and Happy National Day.