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.
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.