SINGAPORE - Football Association of Singapore (FAS) general secretary Winston Lee has released evidence to show that Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng was aware that a $500,000 donation was meant for the Asean Football Federation.
The Straits Times received a statement from Lee on Tuesday (April 18) evening with scans of a letter titled "Request for donation" between Ng and former FAS president Zainudin Nordin in which Ng says, "I am happy to inform you that fihat we will contribute S$500,000 to ASEAN Football Federation through FAS to develop this Football Management System".
Lee's letter is also accompanied by cheques, some of which appear to bear Ng's signature, made payable to the FAS totalling $500,000. There are also payment vouchers from Tiong Bahru FC which are documented as "BEING PAYMENT FOR SPONSORSHIP OF AFF FOOTBALL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS".
The war of words between Lee and Ng in recent days has threatened to overshadow the April 29 FAS election, which will mark the first time the association will elect its own set of leaders. Previous sets of leaders were appointed by the Singapore government.
Ng, a presidential hopeful, is leading a slate called the Game Changers in the contest. Facing his team is a side led by lawyer Lim Kia Tong called Team LKT.
In his statement, Lee said: "On 9 October 2014, Bill Ng wrote to Zainudin Nordin to thank the latter for 'sharing' AFF's Football Management System with him. Bill Ng went on to say that 'we' (Tiong Bahru) will contribute $500,000 to Asean Football Federation through FAS to develop this Football Management System."
"It is clear that Bill Ng and Zainudin Nordin discussed the AFF Football Management System sometime prior to 9 October 2014, when this letter was sent. Pursuant to this discussion, Bill Ng agreed to make a donation of $500,000 to AFF, through FAS. Without a doubt, from his very own letter, Bill Ng knew that the donation was being made to AFF, and it was he who settled on donating $500,000 to this cause.
"Following this, between December 2014 and September 2015, five cheques were drawn up by Tiong Bahru. These were made payable to FAS. However, each and every cheque was also accompanied by a payment voucher which makes clear Tiong Bahru's instruction that the cheque was 'being payment for sponsorship of AFF Football Management Systems'. Again, Bill Ng was well aware because he signed the cheques and also some of the payment vouchers. The amounts, totalling S$500,000, were accordingly sent on to AFF by FAS."
Lee added: "The above makes it clear that Bill Ng was not only intimately aware that the donation was going to AFF, but it was he who decided the purpose and the amount. He also gave the express instruction that the full amount was to go to AFF, and not to local football as he now claims.
"Regrettably, I believe Bill Ng's statement was intended to insinuate financial impropriety within FAS and to damage the credibility of FAS and myself. Given these clear facts which show otherwise, I call on Bill Ng to wholly and unconditionally apologise for his statements."
Ng hit back late on Tuesday night, saying in a statement that "Winston Lee seems to have conveniently forgotten the sequence of events which led to the donation of $500,000 made by Tiong Bahru FC to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS)".
He insisted that it was Lee who had prepared the letter "which he then directed me to reproduce using the Tiong Bahru FC letterhead to address to Mr Zainudin Nordin, confirming the ‘request to donate’".
He reiterated that he had never dealt with Zainudin Nordin on the matter of the donation and that "all discussions, and the 'Request for Donation'" had come from Lee.
The Straits Times visited Zainudin at his Alexandra home to ask for his views on the saga on Tuesday evening.
The former Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Member of Parliament said he was unaware of the latest developments and would not comment for now.
He said: "I already said I won't be commenting. I'm not running in the election."
When ST asked if he wanted to see the latest evidence, he said he was tired and declined the offer.
When asked for its thoughts on the matter, a spokesman for national sports agency Sport Singapore said: "We have requested FAS to provide full details on the donations and we are looking into the matter. "
Documents released by Mr Winston Lee
Statement by Mr Bill Ng
Winston Lee seems to have conveniently forgotten the sequence of events which led to the donation of $500,000 made by Tiong Bahru FC to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
It was Winston Lee who met me on multiple occasions in 2014 to seek the donations from Tiong Bahru FC for a Football Management System to be developed for the benefit of Singapore football and ASEAN football.
At no point during these meetings was ‘a proposal’ ever presented.
What was presented by Winston Lee, however, was a letter which he had prepared, which he then directed me to reproduce using the Tiong Bahru FC letterhead to address to Mr Zainudin Nordin, confirming the ‘request to donate’.
It was in this letter that the term “AFF Football Management System” was first used. As such, all payment vouchers to the FAS thereafter by administrative staff of Tiong Bahru FC adopted this term.
I have never dealt with Mr Zainudin Nordin on the matter of the donation to fund the Football Management System at any point.
Again, and to reiterate, all discussions, and the “Request for Donation” came from Winston Lee.
When Tiong Bahru FC agreed to Winston Lee’s request for a donation, it was strictly on the basis that the money was to be used to develop a system which would benefit Singapore Football, especially our local clubs.
Winston Lee assured me that this was the case. Winston Lee and the former Council still owes the Singapore Football fraternity answers to all these questions.
- The money donated by Tiong Bahru FC was supposed to benefit Singapore Football. How has the AFF Football Management System benefited Singapore football?
- Former Council members like Zulkifli Baharudin has said that he is completely unaware of this donation which was made to the AFF. How is this possible given that the cheques were banked into FAS accounts, especially when charity and IPC guidelines state that external donations must be cleared by the Council.
- Can Winston Lee, who sits on various AFF committees, provide an update on this Football Management System since he was the one responsible seeking donations for it?
- Can former Exco Council members in the Team LKT slate explain how $500,000 could have been paid out of their accounts to a foreign third party without their knowledge?
- What does this speak of the level of governance in the FAS, particularly amongst the Council members who were part of the last Exco and who are currently in Team LKT?
- Knowing that the $500,000 had been donated to the AFF for the Football Management System, which was supposed to benefit Singapore Football, how did Winston Lee follow up with the AFF to ensure its implementation?
- Why does the FAS annual report of 2015 does not make mention of this donation at all.
Along with the affiliates, we still await these answers.