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FAS Elections: Lim Kia Tong is new president after 30-13 win over Bill Ng

SINGAPORE - Team LKT have won the inaugural Football Association of Singapore (FAS) elections held at the Black Box auditorium, with the slate of nine led by former FAS vice president Lim Kia Tong winning a two-third majority vote, 30-13, against the team led by businessman Bill Ng.

Lim Kia Tong attends a press conference after the historic FAS elections, April 29, 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Lim Kia Tong attends a press conference after the historic FAS elections, April 29, 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

SINGAPORE - Team LKT have won the inaugural Football Association of Singapore (FAS) elections held at the Black Box auditorium, with the slate of nine led by former FAS vice president Lim Kia Tong winning a two-third majority vote, 30-13, against the team led by businessman Bill Ng.

The six independent candidates who are aligned to Team LKT were also voted into the FAS Council. They are former Singapore internationals Lim Tong Hai and Yakob Hashim, woman's footballer Sharda Parvin, Kelvin Teo, Michael Foo and Rizal Rasudin. This means that Team LKT has effectively swept all the positions on the new democratically-elected FAS Council.

The resounding win on Saturday (April 29) morning means that 64-year-old lawyer Lim will now be the new president of the FAS for the next four years.

His deputy president will be Bernard Tan, while his four vice-presidents will be S. Thavaneson, Teo Hock Seng, Edwin Tong and Razali Saad. The other members in his slate who will take up council member seats are Dinesh Nair, Forrest Li and Darwin Jalil.

Media were not allowed into the Black Box auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub on Saturday but the elections for the slate was over barely 15 minutes after all the candidates entered the auditorium.

And the results were conclusive: Team LKT won the mandate at the first round of voting, garnering 30 votes. This was four more than the 26 they had been very confident of getting. 

When asked if he was surprised by the results, Lim said: "Well, we had done our calculations and that was about the figure we got, the magical figure (to win today)."

On Friday, when TODAY conducted a confidential straw poll among the 44 FAS affiliates, Team LKT was found leading Team Game Changers 14-12 after 26 members told us their votes.

But 18 affiliates were not accounted for as they either declined comment when contacted, or were uncontactable.

But sources in Team LKT told TODAY that they were still quietly confident of winning the first round of voting by a simple majority at the very least, that would push the contest for the slate into a second round of voting in which teams need just a simple majority to triumph.

When asked what contributed to the resounding win, new FAS vice-president Edwin Tong said: "I think it was a combination of several factors, some of which include the fact that the team has been very sincere in wanting to engage, and in coming out with very clear programmes that we will  implement,

"Also at the end of the day, I think the sense of trust in the integrity of the team, and that the belief that this is the team to take Singapore football forward."

Moments after Team LKT's win, former Woodlands Wellington team manager R. Vengadasalam, a staunch supporter of the team, came out bearing a huge smile.

"We knew we were going to win," he said to the reporters who rushed towards him for quotes

He added: "The work starts now. Lim Kia Tong is going to start working on healing Singapore football today."

 

FOOTBALL ROCKED BY CONTROVERSIES

Indeed, Lim's team will have a lot to do to help the beleaguered sport get back on its feet after a bruising two weeks of stunning revelations, and accusations, which resulted eventually in police raids on the FAS headquarters in Jalan Besar Stadium, and the clubhouses of three football clubs that are either owned or linked to businessman Ng. 

The saga started on April 13 when Ng dropped a bombshell at the Team Game Changers press conference at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.

In an effort to show that his passion for Singapore football, and what he has done for the sport so far, he announced that he had donated a total of S$850,000 to the FAS. He then invited the media to ask FAS General Secretary Winston Lee what the money was used for.

Within hours, Lee issued a response saying that S$200,000 of the S$850,000 was donated by Polygon Ventures, a company linked to Hougang United, to the LionsXII, a club formed by the FAS to compete in the Malaysian Super League in 2012.

Lee added that another S$500,000 was donated by Tiong Bahru FC, an amateur club owned by Ng that is playing in the National Football League. The money went to the Asean Football Federation’s Football Management System via the FAS.

In another statement later, the FAS said that it was then-president Zainudin Nordin who approached Ng for the donation to the AFF.

That then escalated into a public spat between Ng and Lee, with the former insisting that it was Lee and not Mr Zainudin who had requested for the donation. Mr Lee then produced documents proving that it was Ng and Zainudin who had corresponded over the donation.

Things took an even more dramatic turn after that.

Sport Singapore (SportSG), the national governing body for sports in Singapore, then filed a police report over the suspected misuse of funds by TBFC, and an attempt by a senior official of the club - believed to be Ng - to stop an audit into two S.League sit-out clubs.

One of the clubs was Woodlands Wellington, which Ng was previously linked to, during the S.League's failed year-long attempt to merge Woodlands and Hougang into a super club.

The police report by SportSG resulted in the authorities conducting raids at the FAS headquarters at Jalan Besar Stadium, and the three football clubs linked to Ng: Hougang United, TBFC, and Woodlands Wellington.

Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, Lee and Zainudin were subsequently questioned by the CAD. All four were arrested are currently out on police bail.

During this time, media investigations also uncovered that TBFC - which has 29 jackpot machines and more than 18,000 members, and occupies two basement units at People's Park Centre - had made more than S$36 million in FY2015/16. It paid out about S$31 million in winnings and taxes.

However, what raised the eyebrows was the fact that it also paid its 15 staff about $2.07 million in salaries and employee benefits, and close to $1 million in rent to its landlord, or about S$80,000 per month..

The media discovered that the landlord for the TBFC clubhouse was Polygon Ventures, which is owned by Ng's wife, Bonnie Wong.

At the same time, just S$169,000 was ploughed back into the football club.

 

IMPASSIONED PLEA

The controversies of the past two weeks have indeed thrust the FAS and the state of Singapore football into the spotlight and the picture currently makes for very grim viewing.

Indeed, after the win, both Lim and new FAS deputy president Bernard Tan stressed the need for the sport to heal and to address the many issues that have cropped up in the past turbulent fortnight.

Said Lim at Team LKT's post-win press conference: "Today was not a victory for Team LKT, it was a victory for Singapore football. This is the mandate that will bring sweeping changes to Singapore football.

"The real work starts now and my team and I promise that we will work tirelessly to heal Singapore football and bring back the glory days"

Tan said: "Given the events of the past weeks, It is essential for the FAS Council to address the issue of governance, and of the clubs involved in the issues relating to the gaming machines.

"I think football wants to move forward, and it is important for us to do it together with the community, member associations and the stakeholders and authorities, it will be a challenging time but it is one of the first things we need to put right."

Lim added that he would also reach out to the affiliates and members of the local football community who did not support them in their efforts to move Singapore football forward.

"For those who didn't support us this time, we will definitely work hard to bring back their support...Today the voters sent out a resounding statement about the kind of values it embraces. This will be the foundation that our future will be built on," he said.

Meanwhile, Ng, who did not hold a separate press conference, told the media as he was leaving the venue that he respected the result, and that his team will support the victors.

“We have to respect the result. They deserved it. We respect the system," he said with a smile.

"They are the best 11, and in football, the best 11 wins. We will play the 12th man, we will play the supporting role.

“In football, you can’t just play with 11 guys. You need a lot of reserves. There are a lot of roles (to be filled). But we need to get Singapore football reunited, that is what we want to see.” 

 

THE NEW FAS COUNCIL:

PRESIDENT - Lim Kia Tong

DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Bernard Tan

VICE PRESIDENT: Edwin Tong, S. Thavaneson, Teo Hock Seng, Razali Saad

COUNCIL MEMBERS: Dinesh Nair, Forrest Li Xiaodong, Darwin Jalil, Lim Tong Hai, Sharda Parvin, Yakob Hashim, Kelvin Teo, Michael Foo, Rizal Rasudin

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