Football: Counting underway as Singapore's football fraternity votes in FAS' first-ever election

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Affiliates registering their attendance at the FAS election. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) 44 affiliates are gathered on Saturday (April 29) at the Singapore Sports Hub's Black Box auditorium in what will be a historic day in Singapore football.

For the first time in the history of the FAS, affiliates will vote in leaders for a four-year term.

Two nine-member teams are contesting the election on a slate basis, while 14 individuals will battle for the remaining six council member positions.

The two teams are Hougang United chairman Bill Ng's Game Changers and former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong's Team LKT.

Affiliates began streaming in before registration started at 9am, exchanging pleasantries as they lounged outside the auditorium.

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The Game Changers, led by vice-presidential candidates Annabel Pennefather and Krishna Ramachandra, showed up at 9.30am to register.

Team LKT, with Lim and candidate for vice-president Edwin Tong leading them, arrived 20 minutes later.

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K. Bala Chandran, chairman of the ad hoc electoral committee, which will run the election, arrived at about 10am.

Game Changers leader Bill Ng appeared at 10.18am, greeting the media and his team-mates cheerfully. His bright red shirt saw him stand out against the rest of his team, who wore white tops under their smart black jackets.

Also seen at the venue were FAS general secretary Winston Lee and S-League interim CEO Kok Wai Leong.

According to sources within the Black Box, voting began shortly after 11am.

The election marks the end of a drama-filled campaign period.

Last Thursday, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department raided the FAS offices at Jalan Besar Stadium, and the clubhouses of Tiong Bahru FC, Hougang United and Woodlands Wellington.

The raids came after national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) made a police report over the suspected misuse of club funds at Tiong Bahru 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.

Game Changers presidential candidate Bill Ng is the chairman of both Tiong Bahru and Hougang, while he was tasked to lead a merger between Hougang and Woodlands in 2014. The move fell through after it was deemed unconstitutional.

Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and FAS general secretary Winston Lee were subsequently questioned by the CAD. Investigations are ongoing and all four are out on police bail.

Before the raids, a $500,000 donation by Tiong Bahru FC dominated discussion.

The money, twice the amount that the FAS spent on grassroots football in the last financial year, was given to the Kuala Lumpur-based Asean Football Federation to support its Football Management System.

Ng disputed the FAS' claims that he had donated the money willingly - although the FAS produced a letter and several cheques signed by Ng which showed he knowingly made the donation.

He had also insisted that it was Lee who had asked him for the donation, not Zainudin, but did not produce documents to back up his claim.

The election is a first in the FAS' history. Previous office bearers were appointed by the Government until this practice was found to contravene Fifa's regulations in 2015.

In particular, Fifa took issue with Article 19.3 of the previous FAS constitution, which stated that "all council members shall be appointed by the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (now called the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth)" in 2015. The article goes against a Fifa directive which forbids third-party influence in a country's football association.

The constitution was amended in consultation with Fifa and was finally approved last November by 38 of the FAS' then 46 members at an extraordinary general meeting. The remaining eight members did not turn up.

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