Football: FAS election to go ahead despite police probe; Zainudin Nordin, Winston Lee, Bill Ng and wife interviewed by CAD

The Tiong Bahru Football Club at People's Park Centre was not in operation yesterday, a day after it was raided by police.
The Tiong Bahru Football Club at People's Park Centre was not in operation yesterday, a day after it was raided by police.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

No word on whether presidential hopeful at centre of saga will be disqualified from polls

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election will still go on despite presidential hopeful Bill Ng being at the centre of a Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) probe and multiple police raids on Thursday.

FAS electoral committee (EC) chairman K. Bala Chandran met Sport Singapore (SportSG) officials yesterday - for the second time this month - as the national sports agency wanted to share more information that led to the stunning action. That saw CAD officers collect documents and computers from the FAS office, and three clubs linked to Mr Ng - Hougang United, Tiong Bahru Football Club and Woodlands Wellington FC.

The raids came after the national sport governing body Sport Singapore made a police report against Tiong Bahru over the suspected misuse of club funds and a purported attempt by a senior officer of the club to obstruct the completion of audits into several clubs which are not taking part in the S-League.

Earlier this month, SportSG had met the electoral committee to highlight issues "in relation to Bill Ng's suitability" but the EC said then that it had no power to investigate the matter.

Speaking to The Straits Times after last night's meeting, Mr Bala Chandran said: "What was discussed at the meeting is confidential but as it stands, the election will still go on as the electoral committee has no power to stop it."

He declined to comment on whether Mr Ng would be disqualified from contesting the election. The chairman of Hougang and Tiong Bahru is leading a team called the Game Changers at the April 29 polls.

All election candidates have to pass eligibility and integrity checks before they are allowed to stand for election. Mr Ng had been certified fit to stand but that was before Thursday's events.

ST understands that Mr Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong Yuk Ying, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and current FAS general secretary Winston Lee were interviewed by the authorities yesterday. None of them could be reached for comment.

However, Mr Jose Raymond, spokesman for Game Changers, told ST: "Bill has spoken to me, he is fine. He had his phone taken away (by investigators) but he is using a new number to communicate."

He added that it was "premature at this point" for Mr Ng to comment on the CAD probe but reiterated that he would cooperate fully with the authorities.

Sources close to Mr Lee also noted that the general secretary's phone had been retained by the CAD.

The fraternity has been left shellshocked by Thursday's raids. The scale of the seizures emerged at 1am when a police bus arrived at Hougang Stadium, home of the Cheetahs, to collect the bulk of the evidence. The operation wrapped up just after 2am, when Hougang staff locked up, but not before putting up a sign to say that its clubhouse would not be open until further notice.

A check yesterday at Tiong Bahru's clubhouse at People's Park Centre, site of its jackpot operations which have seen the club post some $36.8 million in revenue in the last financial year, found that it is also closed until further notice.

Even leaders of other sports were taken aback by the action.

Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy said: " Football is a very important sport. Maybe it's good that there is an election and these issues come out. That is a lot of money. Certainly we don't see that in swimming."

Singapore Table Tennis Association president Ellen Lee said: "The amount is staggering. I hope they have been properly managed but we should all stay calm and not speculate.

"We should also trust the wisdom of whoever is voting, trust that they will be able to see and decide for themselves."

And while the storm continues to rage, a member of Game Changers has remained stoic, saying: "The referee has not called off the match. So we will keep on preparing for the big game."

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'FAS election to go ahead despite CAD probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe