SINGAPORE - Lawyer Lim Kia Tong is the new president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) after winning the election on Saturday (April 29).
Lim's slate of nine, called Team LKT, won the vote 30-13, beating the team - Game Changers - fielded by Hougang United and Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng.
The election, decided by the FAS' 44 affiliates, was held at the Sports Hub's Black Box Auditorium.
There was one invalid vote.
After the slate contest was determined, voting turned to the contest for the six council positions. These were secured by the other members of Team LKT: Lim Tong Hai, Rizal Rasudin, Yakob Hashim, Michael Foo and Kelvin Teo.
Sharda Parvin had earlier secured an automatic spot by being the only female candidate among the 14 contenders. The FAS Constitution requires the council to have at least one female member.
The results gave Team LKT a clean sweep of the election, which was decided by the FAS' 44 affiliates.
Lim is the deputy chairman of Fifa's disciplinary committee, which convenes to discuss disciplinary cases in the sport. Fifa is the world governing body for football. Lim was also a vice-president in the previous FAS council under president Zainudin Nordin, who left the FAS last November.
The other key decision-makers in the new FAS council are ST Engineering's chief marketing officer Bernard Tan (deputy president), lawyer and MP for Marine Parade GRC Edwin Tong, Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson, Komoco Motors group managing director Teo Hock Seng and former national captain Razali Saad (all vice-presidents). The other members of the slate are Dinesh Nair, Forrest Li, Darwin Jalil.
Tan and Tong, like Lim, were vice-presidents in the former council. Thavaneson and Teo were previous council members too.
After he emerged from the Black Box, Ng told the waiting media: "The best 11 won... we have to respect the result. We will support them."
The FAS election was a landmark election as the affiliates were voting for their leaders for the first time in the FAS' history.
The term is for four years and there were 15 council seats up for grabs.
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.
At Saturday morning's elections, affiliates began streaming in before registration started at 9am, exchanging pleasantries as they lounged outside the auditorium.
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 Tong leading them, arrived 20 minutes later.
The election marks the end of a drama-filled campaign period.
On April 20, 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 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.
Team LKT's manifesto was wide-ranging, covering 10 points including greater transparency within the FAS, more support for youth, grassroots and women's football, developing more coaches and referees, a review of the S-League and setting high targets for the various national teams.
The expectation would be for the Lions to qualify regularly for the third round of the World Cup qualifiers, the Asian Cup Finals and to win the AFF Championship consistently.
The Under-23s and the cerebral palsy teams are expected to win the SEA Games and Asean Para Games respectively.