Football: FAS gen sec Winston Lee told explain $500k donation

FAS general secretary Winston Lee looking on as then president Zainudin Nordin spoke at a media conference back in January 2011. Game Changers have listed eight questions for Lee to answer.
FAS general secretary Winston Lee looking on as then president Zainudin Nordin spoke at a media conference back in January 2011. Game Changers have listed eight questions for Lee to answer.BH FILE PHOTO

Ng's team says donation meant for S'pore football and was not sought by Zainudin

The Game Changers team contesting the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election have hit back at claims that their leader, Bill Ng, was aware that a hefty donation made by a club he used to run in 2014 was meant for the Asean Football Federation (AFF).

In a strongly-worded statement issued yesterday evening, the team led by Hougang United chairman Ng lashed out at Winston Lee, insisting that the FAS general secretary "owes the Singapore footballing fraternity an explanation".

The Game Changers' latest volley comes in the wake of the FAS' claims on Saturday that when Ng donated $500,000 in 2014 from National Football League club Tiong Bahru FC's coffers, he knew that the money was intended for the AFF's football management system.

The online portal is supposed to raise the capabilities and capacities of member associations and clubs in various aspects of football management such as income generation, information technology, corporate governance and facilities utilisation.

Ng, who is challenging Lim Kia Tong for the FAS presidency, is the chairman of both Tiong Bahru and Hougang.

 

The Game Changers said yesterday: "Tiong Bahru FC had, from December 2014 onwards and at the request of Winston Lee to Bill Ng made in person, given donations totalling $500,000 to the FAS by way of various cheque payments.

"We would like to reiterate that all of these cheques were made payable to the FAS.

"Having donated the funds to the FAS, how these funds were then used is something which only the FAS administrators can explain. When Bill Ng agreed to Winston's request for a donation, it was strictly on the basis that the money was to be used to benefit Singapore football, especially our local clubs."

In addition, the team also listed eight questions, ranging from whether the rest of the former FAS council was informed of the donation, to the exact nature of the football management system the donation was meant to procure, in its statement for Lee to answer.

In response to the fresh allegations against Lee, an FAS spokesman said: "We disagree with these baseless allegations and will present the details in due course."

On Saturday, an FAS spokesman had pointed out that it was the football governing body's former president Zainudin Nordin who had acted alone in asking for the donation to the AFF from Ng.

But this was refuted by the Games Changers yesterday, who insisted that Zainudin "did not approach Mr Bill Ng over the AFF football management system at any time".

When contacted by telephone last night, Zainudin did not answer but sent a text message saying: "Sorry, I can't talk right now."

Lawyers The Straits Times spoke to believe that more evidence should come to light before judgment can be passed.

Loh Lin Kok, a former president of Singapore Athletics who runs his own law firm, believes that the legality of the donation will be clearer once the origins of the money are established.

He said: "We should not jump to conclusions, we have to find the source (of the donations). Did it all come from jackpot money?"

However, he added: "Most associations are beggars. So it is strange that one chose not to strengthen its own coffers first, instead it strengthened the coffers of one that is overseas."

Another lawyer, Edmond Pereira, who also manages his own firm, added: "If Bill Ng gave the funds in his personal capacity to FAS or through Tiong Bahru and FAS redirected the funds to some Asean cause, the issue is: Must FAS get the approval of its council?

"I am of the view that the answer is 'yes'. Once the funds go into the pool of the FAS, it is the funds of the FAS.

"However, if the contribution or donation is for a particular purpose or cause and solely for the 'cause' (Asean football management system) and the donor was aware, I still hold the view that the FAS must still get the mandate of the FAS council."

The FAS election will take place on April 29, when the association's 44 affiliates will, for the first time, vote in a new set of leaders.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Lee told to explain $500k'. Print Edition | Subscribe