FAS election 2017

FAS saga: Ball in Fifa's court

Individual candidates Sebastian Tan (left) and James Lim at a press conference yesterday, where they outlined their plans to improve Singapore football, should they be elected to the council at Saturday's FAS polls.
Individual candidates Sebastian Tan (left) and James Lim at a press conference yesterday, where they outlined their plans to improve Singapore football, should they be elected to the council at Saturday's FAS polls.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

World football body remains tight-lipped over its course of action before Saturday's election

World football body Fifa is the only authority which can postpone or call off the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.

But, with the polls just three days away, it remains unclear if it will intervene.

K. Bala Chandran, chairman of the FAS ad hoc electoral committee (EC), which is tasked with ensuring the smooth running of the election, said he has been providing regular updates to Fifa about the ongoing police probe but has not received any indication whether the election will be postponed.

Bill Ng, who is leading one of the two teams at the polls, has been questioned by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and is out on police bail.

Ng's wife Bonnie Wong, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and current FAS general secretary Winston Lee are also out on police bail after being questioned by the CAD.

Bala Chandran said: "Fifa has been apprised of what has happened over the past one week or so. I have also forwarded some of the media reports made over the past one week to Fifa.

COURSE OF ACTION

We are going on the basis that the election will proceed until Fifa advises otherwise, or unless a new development comes up.

K. BALA CHANDRAN, chairman of the FAS ad hoc electoral committee.

LOOKING FOR LEADERSHIP

We don't really know much about the investigations. What's more important is having leaders who are sincere and can run the show.

SAAD SALEH, team manager of Winchester Isla FC.

"I have - as the chairperson of the EC - also given my views on, and the implications of, the police investigations in so far as the Football Association of Singapore election is concerned.

"We last spoke yesterday but Fifa has not (got) back to me."

The lawyer declined to share what those views were but said a Fifa representative in charge of the Asia-Pacific region only told him it was "looking into it (the election)".

He added: "We are going on the basis that the election will proceed until Fifa advises otherwise, or unless a new development comes up."

The Straits Times contacted Fifa last night with Bala Chandran's latest comments, but the Zurich-based organisation issued the same reply it sent last Thursday, which said: "Fifa is monitoring the situation concerning the FAS. Please understand that we can't speculate on potential future scenarios."

That previous statement came on the same day that the CAD raided the FAS offices at Jalan Besar Stadium, and the clubhouses of Tiong Bahru FC, Hougang United and Woodlands Wellington.

Ng is the chairman of both Tiong Bahru and Hougang.

Bala Chandran said there had been no communication between the police and the EC.

He added that his committee, which also comprises Jeffrey Beh, chairman of the FAS ethics committee and J. Balasubramaniam, deputy chairman of the FAS audit and compliance committee, met last night to go through the election procedure.

Ng's team, the Game Changers, will face a team led by former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong.

But affiliates - 44 of them will cast their vote on Saturday - seem unperturbed, even as doubts linger over the election.

Saad Saleh, team manager of Winchester Isla FC, said: "We don't really know much about the investigations. What's more important is having leaders who are sincere and can run the show."

Two independent candidates, Sebastian Tan and James Lim, who are not aligned to either team, held a press conference jointly yesterday to discuss their plans for local football and agreed that delays were not welcome.

Tan said: "It is unfair to postpone it since nobody knows if someone is guilty. Assuming they win and are then found guilty, there are processes in place either to call for a re-election or to remove the parties that are found guilty and replace them with someone else."

Lim added: "Not going on with the election will mean that we would not have leaders. Someone has to come in and take charge. Both teams are already capable of leading Singapore football. So why wait?"

•Additional reporting by John Pravin and Ho Cai Jun

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'Ball in Fifa's court'. Print Edition | Subscribe