Football: Lim Kia Tong and Teo Hock Seng join forces to serve S'pore football

Ex-Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng (left) and lawyer Lim Kia Tong on why they are standing for the FAS election on April 29.ST VIDEO: WANG MENG MENG
Teo Hock Seng (left), Komoco's group managing director, and Lim Kia Tong, FAS' interim chief, after the media conference for the annual Sultan of Selangor's Cup. Lim is glad to have the "godfather of Singapore football" in his slate as he considers h
Teo Hock Seng (left), Komoco's group managing director, and Lim Kia Tong, FAS' interim chief, after the media conference for the annual Sultan of Selangor's Cup. Lim is glad to have the "godfather of Singapore football" in his slate as he considers him a beacon for the sport and still full of passion in his 70s.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Lim Kia Tong defends integrity of his team, whose 'pillar' is veteran football official Teo

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is expected to call for its first-ever election today and its interim council president Lim Kia Tong, usually a reserved man, made an impassioned statement that his electoral team was one filled with persons of integrity.

The lawyer told The Straits Times on the sidelines of the press conference for the Sultan of Selangor's Cup that his slate of 15 candidates, which includes himself contesting the top post, a deputy president and four vice-presidents, are highly principled, in the wake of much criticism.

He said: "When we talk about integrity, we talk about integrity in football, as a person, in financial control, in knowledge of the game. It all revolves around integrity.

"I must emphasise that our football is not in a rut, football is not dying a painful death. You can see from the opening match (Community Shield between Albirex and Tampines Rovers, attended by 15,000 fans), we worked extremely hard to get this game played at the National Stadium and it was a true success. This is a spark."

Last week, the state of Singapore football had come under scrutiny when Nominated MP Ganesh Rajaram said in Parliament that the "S-League is dying a slow and painful death" and "high-ranking FAS officials (were) making trips across the globe and taking selfies with football superstars".

FAS staff noted that Lim had attended yesterday's event after a whirlwind 48-hour trip to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich, where he presided over cases as its disciplinary council deputy chairman.

 
 

Looking energised, the 64-year-old was chirpy as he introduced Teo Hock Seng as a "pillar" of his electoral team. Lim said: "This is an opportune time to make it known that we are extremely fortunate to have the godfather of Singapore football in our slate. When we look at him, we see him as a beacon for football, still full of passion at his age.

"When we chart the next chapter forward for FAS, without reservations, we had him in mind. Of course, we also heard he had been approached by somebody else but he is a man of wisdom, he analysed the situation and therefore decided to be part of my team.

"When Hock Seng managed Tampines, there was hardly any mis-step but I can't say much for what happened after his tour. During his many years of managing Tampines, he did it very well."

Lim credited FAS interim vice-president S. Thavaneson for initiating contact with Teo and getting the former Tampines chairman on board their team.

Starting as president of the National Football League (NFL) club Farrer Park United from 1973 to 1981 that groomed 44 national players, before a very successful tenure as Stags boss from 2000 to 2015, Teo remains an influential figure in local football. He is also known for decisive action and brutal honesty and that is what he intends to bring to the FAS if elected.

Teo, who turns 71 on Wednesday, said: "I have my own mind, I speak out of my heart and I don't care what happens (as a result). I am not aligned to anything else apart from the betterment of football.

"I joined Kia Tong's team mainly because they have the integrity. I joined with an open mind because I can say what I want. I can be a good 'opposition member' in the team."

Lim also dismissed claims that his team are now only starting to pay attention to National Football League sides during the election bump, as these grassroots clubs form the bulk of the 44 votes.

He reasoned: "Fifa suggested that the clubs be given an en-bloc vote (by virtue of their second-tier status) but I believe in a fair election and one man must be entitled to one vote.

"All NFL and grassroots members should be given their right to vote in this election."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Joining forces to serve'. Print Edition | Subscribe