FAS saga: Election rivals strive to return focus to the game

A man and a woman looking in on the Tiong Bahru FC clubhouse at People's Park Centre yesterday. It has been closed since Thursday's CAD raid.
A man and a woman looking in on the Tiong Bahru FC clubhouse at People's Park Centre yesterday. It has been closed since Thursday's CAD raid.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Police raids, jackpot machines, claims and counter-claims over a $500,000 donation - the chatter leading up to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election has been on anything but football.

But, with the polls just five days away, both teams contesting the election, Game Changers and Team LKT, are keen to return the conversation to the pitch.

A spokesman for the Game Changers, who are led by Hougang United and Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng, said: "The team is looking forward to the election and will continue its outreach to the affiliates over the next week."

Bernard Tan, a candidate for the deputy president's post on Team LKT, said his team would meet some affiliates by tomorrow with two objectives - to clear the air about the recent saga, as well as to outline his team's action plan if they are voted into office.

Tan said: "We will have to talk about events that have happened, of course.

"We can't leave it hanging but the more important thing is the future of Singapore football.

"We will share what actions people can expect to see from our team if we are elected."

He declined to go into detail but said his team would cover the organisational structure of the FAS, as well as their plans to tackle the pitch availability issues that currently plague local clubs.

Two teams of nine candidates will stand at the polls, while 14 individual candidates will contest the six individual council member positions.

The build-up to the election has taken several dramatic turns since April 13, when news of a $500,000 donation by National Football League club Tiong Bahru to the Asean Football Federation surfaced.

Amid a dispute between Ng and FAS general secretary Winston Lee over who and what the donation was for, and who had requested it, local sport governing body Sport Singapore filed a police report over the suspected misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru and attempts to block club audits.

The Commercial Affairs Department subsequently raided the offices of Tiong Bahru, the FAS, Hougang United and Woodlands Wellington.

Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and Lee were then called up for questioning.

Ms Wong is the majority shareholder of Polygon Ventures, the landlord of TBFC's basement clubhouse at People's Park Centre.

Reflecting on the saga, Tan said: "We are obviously shocked and concerned at the recent developments and the negative impact this has had on the image of the game.

"One of the priorities of the next council should be to fix governance issues."

The election is set to take place at the Singapore Sports Hub. K. Bala Chandran, chairman of the FAS ad hoc electoral committee, which is tasked with overseeing the smooth running of the polls, said it has no power to stop the election unless world body Fifa steps in.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2017, with the headline 'Election rivals strive to return focus to the game'. Print Edition | Subscribe