- Inspirational Stories
In Memory of the late Milan Kwee (20 July 1946 - 9 March 2021)
(Milan Kwee in 2016)
Milan Kwee is best known as a Senior sports administrator, who served not only the Singapore Taekwondo Federation, but also the World Taekwondo Federation.
Taekwondo was virtually unknown in Singapore during the late colonial period and during the time of merger with Malaysia (1963 – 1965). It is believed that Choi Hong Hi, who was the only 9th Dan Black Belt, introduced Tae-Kwon-Do (TKD) to Singapore in about 1961. The Singapore Taekwondo Association (STKDA) itself was founded in 1963.
Milan Kwee was one of the pioneer local champions, winning multiple national titles and was a medalist in the early Asian Taekwondo Championships.
In 1970, when Han Cha Kyo, a seventh Dan Black Belt from the International Taekwondo Federation was the chief Instructor of the Tae-Kwon-Do Association and Minister for Social Affairs Othman bin Wok was the Association’s Patron, Milan Kwee was contesting the heavyweight division. This was a time when there was government concern about the rapid growth of martial arts skills that could be used for criminal or subversive reasons. It was necessary for black belt holders to be screened to establish their discipline and therefore their credibility.
In 1971, when a new Council had taken over administration of the STKDA, Milan was elected to be the Assistant Secretary. This was the beginning of his long-lasting career as a sports administrator. He remained competitive. In December 1971, he became the overall champion as a Black Belt 2nd Dan at the third Singapore Tae-Kwon-Do Championships.
In 1973, the Singapore Taekwondo Federation decided to send four representative heavyweights, to the First World Taekwondo championships to be held in Seoul, Korea. Milan Kwee was one of the selected combatants. As one of the leading active participants, it was taken for granted that he would also step in and act as a judge in local and international competitions.
In March 1976, Milan was involved in major steps to streamline the growth of Taekwondo in Singapore, here. Gradings were usually conducted by the Taekwondo clubs which were affiliated to the Federation. The system was replaced by a centralised system conducted by a Board of Examiners. And Milan Kwee one of the nine examiners identified to run the system.
His reputation as a top class and well-respected examiner led him to widen his responsibilities through writing. A handbook for national referees was published in 1982.
Milan Kwee and Lim Teong Chin were the co-authors.
Milan became the president of Singapore Taekwondo Federation, from 1983-1984 and then again from 2004 to 2018. He was the recipient of a Singapore Sports Council Commendation Award in 1983. Part of his responsibility was to identify promising members of the Federation to spend time training in South Korea. His reputation as an administrator led him to become an Executive Board member of the ASEAN Taekwondo Federation in 2005.
In 2012, he was elected as an executive committee member of the Singapore National Olympic Council. And he represented the National Sports Associations from 2012 until 2018. It was the first time a representative from Taekwondo had held that position. He served as a member of the Competition Supervisory Board at the 2012 London Olympics and was a member of the Games Selection Committee.
Mr. Milan Kwee, the President of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) was elected as an Executive Committee, or Council, member of the Singapore National Olympic Committee (SNOC). It marked the first time in the history of the SNOC that a taekwondo or a martial arts member was included in the Council.
With the SNOC, he took on a range of other responsibilities :
- Chairman of the Special Training Assistance Committee
- Member of the Singapore Sports Awards Selection Committee
- Member of the Affiliation Committee
- Member of the Marketing Committee
In acknowledgement for his extensive contributions towards the growth of Taekwondo, Milan was awarded Seoul honorary citizenship in 2016. The following year, he was made the Chef de Mission of the Singapore contingent at the 2017 SEA Games held in Kuala Lumpur.
Perhaps the most significant accolade occurred in June 2018 when he became one of the four Singapore National Olympic Council Vice-presidents.
This article was contributed by Dr Nick Aplin. He is an Englishman and a PR of Singapore, who has observed sport here from close range for more than 30 years. He is the number one fan of his wife (a Badminton champion), his eldest son (a Football international) his second son (an ASEAN age-group Chess champion) and his third son (a SEA Games Bronze medallist).
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