New minister Tong quits FAS post

Edwin Tong (right), seen with FAS president Lim Kia Tong, will leave his position at the national football body that he has held since 2013.
Edwin Tong (right), seen with FAS president Lim Kia Tong, will leave his position at the national football body that he has held since 2013.ST FILE PHOTO

Newly appointed Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong has stepped down from his role as vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), the national football body announced last night.

In a media statement, an FAS spokesman said Tong had given notice of his resignation from the FAS council and that the move was made "in connection with his new appointment".

Tong, the Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, will be sworn in today and will also be the Second Minister for Law.

In its statement, the FAS described him as an "integral member" of the six-man FAS exco and an "exemplary ambassador in the promotion of football in Singapore".

Said its spokesman: "Together with (FAS president) Lim Kia Tong, he initiated the rebranding and revamp of the local professional league from the S-League to the Singapore Premier League (SPL) in 2018, including establishing the four pillars that the SPL is based on - as a premium platform for aspiring footballers, professionalism, sustainability and a vibrant football culture.

On top of that, he also headed the digital push for the newly minted SPL, calling for free live streaming of matches to be available to further enhance engagement with local fans and communities."

Last August, Tong revealed to The Straits Times that the FAS had set a goal for the national team to play in the 2034 World Cup, a goal he said was "realistic". The declaration sparked mixed reactions from the local fraternity, with some applauding the high aim.

Tong, 50, was appointed FAS vice-president in September 2013, and was re-elected in the same role in 2017. His current term was due to end next year. The FAS will only be required to elect a replacement at its next congress - as per its constitution - which is slated to be held before the year is up.

Its other vice-presidents are S. Thavaneson, Teo Hock Seng and Razali Saad. President Lim and deputy president Bernard Tan complete the FAS exco.

Lim said of Tong, who had also been chairman of the FAS legal committee since 2017: "He was a valuable member of the team and we could always count on him for advice and insightful perspectives... but we are aware that he has a higher calling to answer to for the betterment of our nation.

"On behalf of all the FAS council members and staff, I would like to place on record our utmost thanks and sincere gratitude to Edwin for all his contributions to the organisation over the past eight years.

"We wish him all the best as he embarks on the next chapter of his public service career."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2020, with the headline 'New minister Tong quits FAS post'. Print Edition | Subscribe