Juliana Seow, Jessie Phua elected VPs of Singapore National Olympic Council; veteran official Tan Eng Liang retires

(From left) Fencing chief Juliana Seow and bowling president Jessie Phua.
(From left) Fencing chief Juliana Seow and bowling president Jessie Phua.PHOTOS: SNOC, TNP FILE

SINGAPORE - Juliana Seow has worn many hats in sport – from national fencer to coach to president of Fencing Singapore - and she hopes her experience will help her in her new role as vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC). 

The 48-year-old told The Straits Times: “Whatever position I’m in, I’ll always want to contribute and make sport a better place. 

“I’ve been an athlete and a coach, so I know what it feels like and I hope with my experience, I can empathise with every situation and find a win-win solution.”

Seow and Singapore Bowling chief Jessie Phua were elected vice-presidents at the SNOC’s virtual annual general meeting on Wednesday (Sept 23). 

Phua was defending her seat while the other seat had been vacated by Dr Tan Eng Liang, who stood down after 28 years of service. The other candidate in the race was former sepak takraw president Abdul Halim Kader.

Phua and Seow will serve until 2024, joining incumbent vice-presidents Benedict Tan and Milan Kwee, who were elected at the 2018 AGM and will serve till 2022. 

The AGM was held via video conferencing because of Covid-19 restrictions and was attended by 225 representatives from 54 National Sports Associations (NSAs).

SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin paid tribute to former Olympian Dr Tan and thanked him for his years of service.

He said: “Dr Tan has been a dedicated and selfless servant to sport in Singapore. He passionately cares about our sports and athletes, and he is irreplaceable for what he brings to the table. We thank him for the decades that he has poured into sport, and wish him a happy retirement.”

Seow also paid tribute to Dr Tan and said he was a “great role model”.

She said: “I hope I can be as effective as Dr Tan, who has been a great role model. He can be tough and strict but he’s also very caring and empathetic. He’s a very hands-on person who always looks to find the root of the problem. 

“I have many role models including Jessie and Milan and I hope to learn the best from everyone and create a unique identity for myself but what’s more important is I want sport to become a greater passion for us.

“I truly believe that sport helps to build character especially in these circumstances when we need a lot of resilience to push ourselves through.”

Phua, who has been in the seat since 2014, added that the biggest challenge for most NSAs now is how to maintain interest in their respective sports during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Now it’s for our colleagues in the sporting community to collectively get over this and meet this challenge,” she said. “It’s up to us how we can be more creative to keep the engagement there and to keep people enthused so that when the light at the end of tunnel gets bigger and brighter, we can emerge and hit the ground running. 

“I hope sport will continue to be the unifier that brings all Singaporeans together.”

SNOC executive committee 2020-2021

President: Tan Chuan-Jin

IOC member: Ng Ser Miang

Vice-presidents: Milan Kwee, Benedict Tan, Jessie Phua, Juliana Seow

Honorary treasurer: Edwin Lee

Members: Lawrence Leow

Members (co-opted): Lim Teck Yin, Tan Chen Kee, Mark Chay (chairman, athletes' commission), Lau Kok Keng

Secretary-general (ex-officio): Chris Chan

Assistant secretary-general (ex-officio): Edmund Lim