Zheng back at SBA (The Sunday Times, 5 Oct 2008)

Convicted of corruption last year, former technical director re-hired

By Leonard Lim

Less than 12 months ago, he pleaded guilty to two counts of corruption and was fined $20,000.

Coach Zheng was convicted of corruption and bribery last year

 

Zheng, a former coach of the China national team, is believed to have been offered a four-year contract and to have started work on Oct 1. 

 

Already, views are split over the SBA’s controversial decision to accept him back into the sport.  

 

Said an insider who declined to be named: ‘He may have a stellar record in the sport, but it’s different this time. 

 

‘He has health problems, and you’re putting him back in the same post where the corruption took place.

 

‘Unless there are measures to prevent a repeat of what happened, it does not seem a wise move.’

 

Firmly backing the appointment, however, is Singapore Sports Council chief executive Oon Jin Teik.

 

‘The man has already been found guilty and paid his dues,’ said Oon. ‘I’m a strong believer in not putting out a guy for life, and to me the case is over.

 

‘He has good technical ability and I’m certain he can contribute to local badminton further. As for health issues, it’s up to him to convince the employer that he is up to the task.’

 

Queries to SBA chief executive officer Edwin Pang were referred to his president, Lee Yi Shyan.

 

Mr Lee, the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, did not respond by press time.

 

Zheng, who stepped down from the technical director post in late 2006 after suffering a heart attack, himself adopted a flip-flop stance.

 

On Friday, he introduced himself over the telephone as ‘Mr Zheng, from the SBA’.

 

But he did not reply to questions, claiming he could not hear them.

 

In another telephone conversation yesterday, the Coach of the Year at the 2005 Singapore Sports Awards insisted that he was not back with the SBA.

 

The Fujian native hastily said it was not convenient to discuss the matter, and then declined further comment.

 

Zheng, a former doubles specialist who represented China between 1964 and 1976, joined the SBA in 1991 as national coach and was its director of coaching from 1996 to 1997.

 

In 2002, he was appointed technical director and oversaw training of national players and coaches, and was in charge of the recruitment of coaches.

 

Zheng also had a role in grooming Ronald Susilo to a successful year in 2004, when the shuttler reached a career-best sixth in the world and upset world No 1 Lin Dan in the opening round of the Athens Olympics.

 

He also was instrumental in the women’s team winning their first South-east Asia Games gold in 2003 and qualifying for their first Uber Cup finals in 2006. The same year, the women’s team also won a team bronze at the Doha Asian Games – another first.

 

But he fell from grace last December after he was convicted of two counts of corruption.

 

In Jan 2004, Zheng accepted $3,000 from You Guangli as a reward for recommending the former national women’s team coach as chief coach.

 

In February 2005, he accepted another $3,000 for recommending You’s contract be renewed for another two years.

 

The SBA hired You, 68, for a two-year term as the women’s team chief coach in April 2003.

 

In April 2005, his employment contract was renewed for another two years. You quit in 2006.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Zheng back at SBA (The Sunday Times, 5 Oct 2008)

  1. Suri

    Singapore is the toughest country in the world that is well known for not tolerating any nonsense. A crime is a crime no matter how small or petty it is. We are a building nation of immigrants from all over the world. We built a strong nation based on justice and equality. We taught our younger generations, our future the good ethic and morals and the importance of family values. We criticize our neighboring or any country that are tainted with cheating, briberies and corruptions. We taught our children that are wrong and not acceptable. It goes against everything good that we have taught them. The government herself would not have tolerated it.
    But here, we have a 65 years old man that has been convicted with not one but two separate consecutive charges of corruption. And yet, being rehired in the same post where the exact conviction took place! Whether he was found guilty and has paid his dues, that is not the concern. That questions his credibility as a human being with good moral values. That put doubts and questions of his integrity and credibility. Was that the only two corruptions he had accepted? Or were there plenty more tracing down his years of being in the field that took him down this path and make him who he is now? He has earned his trust to get where he was. But he has broken that trust. This is not a child that is learning his way through life. This is a fully grown man whom has gone through all the thick and thin of life. A grown man should have set an exemplary role model to our younger generation. He should have the ability to make better judgments and decisions.
    If sportsmen were found positive of taking drugs, he or she would immediately be expelled. And perhaps, would never have the chance to take part in competition again. If ex-convicts have been found guilty and paid their dues, then why are they still being looked down upon the society and have a hard time getting employed? If a teenager is found guilty of shoplifting, he or she will be punished. It will not be easy for you to be employed even with outstanding academics results. A criminal record stays in your record for a lifetime. That is a crime you will have to pay for the rest of your life
    No matter how good he is at technical ability, the fact is he has definitely lost his credibility. His actions and behavior has shown that he has no ethic or moral values at all. He would do anything for the sake of money. Besides, how can we put a man with no ethic or moral values to be in charge of training and developing our children into good sportsmen? It is no different than putting a teacher back on the job after being found guilty of molesting a student just because he or she has paid the dues. Zheng Qingjin has been found guilty of making use of his position to molest our system, our pride, dignity and credibility. By hiring Zheng, what is the message we are sending to our children, our sportsmen, our fellow citizens, the neighboring country and the world?
    I have to conclude this; if Zheng is not expelled from his post now, I would be so ashamed of being a Singaporean. I would definitely turn my integrity questions to the Singapore sports Council chief executive Oon Jin Teik himself. I am sure there are other eligible coaches that are good, young, able, and healthy to take up that position. We should get out of our comfort zone and willing to give a chance to other coaches to proof themselves and train our sportsmen. Yes, we do want a spot in the Olympic Games for our country. But what and how do we want to be known as? Winning is not everything. It is about putting up a good fight, a good clean game and being good sportsmen. And it all begins from the root; the parents, the adults and the trainers. It takes a whole village to raise a child.

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