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FAS elections: Lim Kia Tong, Bill Ng lock horns; 16 people register as independent candidates

SINGAPORE - It is confirmed: there will be two teams taking part in the first-ever Football Association of Singapore's elections for office bearers on April 29.

Lim Kia Tong will have Teo Hock Seng on his side, while S.League club chairman Bill Ng and Krishna Ramachandra have joined forces. TODAY FILE PHOTO

Lim Kia Tong will have Teo Hock Seng on his side, while S.League club chairman Bill Ng and Krishna Ramachandra have joined forces. TODAY FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE - It is confirmed: there will be two teams taking part in the first-ever Football Association of Singapore's elections for office bearers on April 29.

According to a media release sent out by the national sports association on Saturday night (March 25), one of the teams will be led by FAS provisional council interim president Lim Kia Tong, while the other is headed by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng.

Known as Team LKT, Lim's nine-man slate for key office positions - president, deputy president, four vice presidents and three council members - is made up of several members from the previous FAS Council headed by former president Zainudin Nordin.

While Lim, a 64-year-old lawyer, is the team's choice for FAS president, former FAS vice president Bernard Tan is its choice for deputy president.

Member of Parliament and lawyer Edwin Tong, Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson; group managing director of Komoco Motors Teo Hock Seng, who is the former chairman of Tampines Rovers; and former national defender and skipper Razali Saad are gunning for the vice president positions.

Cardiologist Dr Dinesh Nair, who chairs the FAS Medical Committee; Forrest Li, founder of Garena Singapore, a popular games publisher, which also sponsors the Garena Young Lions in the S.League; and Darwin Jalil, the chairman of National Football League Division One champions Eunos Crescent, will vie for the council member seats.

Ng's team is called the Game Changers and his choice for deputy president is lawyer and former Geylang International vice-chairman Lau Kok Keng.

Singapore National Olympic Council vice president and veteran sports administrator  Annabel Pennefather; Tampines Rovers chairman and lawyer Krishna Ramachandra; Dr Teoh Chin Sim, the chief medical officer for Team Singapore at the 2015 SEA Games; and Kaki Bukit Sports Club chairman Zaki Ma'arof will contend for the vice president posts.

Meanwhile, Tampines vice-chairman Christopher Wong, GFA Victoria chairman Harman Ali and former national skipper Samad Allapitchay are the team's selections for the council member seats.

Sixteen people have come forward to run as independent candidates for the six individual council seats. The most notable ones are:

* Former national defender Lim Tong Hai, who has been the chairman of the FAS Referees Committee for the last four years,

* Tanjong Pagar United women's team footballer Sharda Parvin,

* Edward Liu, the chairman of former S.League club Tanjong Pagar United, which has been sitting out of the S.League since 2015 because of financial issues,

* Jeffrey Sim, treasurer of Hougang United

* Diehard Woodlands Wellington fan James Lim who formed a team with WWFC fans in 2014 to stage a two-year fight against an attempt by the S.League to merge Woodlands with Hougang United, and

* Freelance writer Suresh Nair, who is also an S.League match commissioner and Referees' Assessor

The other independent candidates are Adrian Quek, Lai Boon Teck, Foo Say Peng, Kumar Appavoo, Shahri Abd Rahim, Moklas Ma'arof, Teo Ban Seng and Sebastian Tan.

There are interesting side stories to watch out for in this historic elections.

For example, many in the local football community will note the battle between former Tampines chairman Teo, and his successor Krishna.

Veteran football official Teo - known as the Godfather of Singapore football for his decades-long involvement in the sport and penchant for looking after retired footballers - stepped down from the Stags in November 2015 after 15 illustrious years to hand the reins over to Krishna, the managing director of law firm Duane Morris & Selvam.

But since then, a gulf appears to have grown between the two men.

Komoco Motors is the sole distributor for Korean car brand Hyundai which had been a long-time sponsor of Tampines.

However, Hyundai, which had been sponsoring Tampines to the tune of about S$350,000 annually, stopped doing so this year and opted instead to sign a two-year title sponsorship deal with the S.League worth over S$1 million.

It is clear too that both teams are mindful of the significant role that the 23 NFL clubs will play in these elections.

As they form the bulk of the 44 FAS affiliates eligible to vote in the elections (the rest being the nine S.League clubs and 12 other affiliates), it probably explains why Team LKT has Darwin in its slate.

Yishun Sentek Mariners head coach Yakob Hashim and Admiralty CSC chariman Rizal Rasudin are running as independent candidates for council seats but are also part of Lim's 15-member team aiming to sweep all the seats in the council.

Likewise, Ng's team has two NFL club officials in Zaki and Harman. Several of the independent candidates are also aligned to either team. 

Howewver, today's registration of candidates does not necessarily mean that all will get the green light to run for office.

From March 25 to April 1, a three-man electoral committee made up of K. Bala Chandran (chairman of the FAS disciplinary committee), Jeffrey Beh (chairman, FAS ethics committee) and J. Balasubramaniam (deputy chairman, FAS audit and compliance committee) will perform integrity checks on each candidate to assess their eligiblity to run for elections.

These include scrutinising a candidate's financial, legal and police records.

Teams contesting through a slate will need a minimum of two-thirds (30) of the 44 votes to win. Independent candidates need just 50 per cent or more of the 44 votes to win.

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