Lawrence Khong 1 Singapore Polo Club 0

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Polo Club’s decision to suspend pastor Lawrence Khong’s membership in August last year violated the rules of “natural justice”, the High Court has said.

The five members of the club’s disciplinary tribunal had been implicated in an e-mail sent by Mr Khong to club members and the Registrar of Societies, in which he questioned the conduct of the club’s 2013 committee in amending the results of a no-confidence vote against the previous year’s leadership.

Thus, the standing and integrity of the tribunal members were “severely compromised” and called into “serious question” if the members were acting honestly, fairly and in good faith, Judicial Commissioner Tan Siong Thye said in his 32-page judgment released yesterday.

“These are the basic values and foundations on which every legitimate tribunal must operate on,” he added.

The judicial commissioner overturned Mr Khong’s suspension during a closed-door hearing in December after lawyers of the former national polo player had applied to the High Court to set aside the club’s order.

The club, which is the only place in Singapore where polo can be played, has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision.

The judicial commissioner also questioned why the tribunal failed to include other untainted committee members. “Even if it was not possible to form a quorum of which all five individuals were not tainted by apparent bias, having a quorum with some persons who were untainted is still preferable to one with none,” the judicial commissioner said.

The tribunal’s finding that Mr Khong — who was serving as the club’s honorary secretary — was unauthorised to send out the email was also flawed, the judicial commissioner said. Sending out materials relating to the business of the club was within the duties of the honorary secretary prescribed under the club’s Constitution and Mr Khong had sought to keep its members informed, the judicial commissioner added.

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