Singapore

Bill Ng 'emotional', 'passionate' in meeting with affiliates

FAS presidential hopeful in police probe makes pitch to voters on revamping Singapore football

He flashed his pearly whites and shook the hand of every familiar face when he arrived for a meeting at 7.35 last night, looking at ease despite a turbulent past week.

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) presidential hopeful Bill Ng was all smiles when he met some of the FAS' 44 affiliates, who will elect the national football body's new council at the Singapore Sports Hub tomorrow morning.

After a three-hour closed-door dialogue with about 40 members from more than 20 of the voting affiliates at the Padi Restaurant on Bussorah Street, the 57-year-old corporate rescue specialist made a low-key exit through the back door at 10.30pm.

Members of the press learnt about his exit and dashed around the row of shophouses to find Mr Ng, wearing a white shirt and black pants and carrying a bottle of water and a bag slung over his left arm, making a beeline for a waiting car.

While he appeared uncomfortable with the flashing camera bulbs, he said before slipping into the car: "Thank you very much. Thank you for your support."

Last night was the first time that Mr Ng had appeared before the media since last Thursday when the police raided three clubhouses linked to him - amateur sides Tiong Bahru Football Club and Woodlands Wellington, and professional S.League club Hougang United.

The authorities had acted after national sports agency Sport Singapore made a police report last Wednesday over the suspected misuse of Tiong Bahru FC funds, as well as an alleged attempt to obstruct an audit into S.League sit-out clubs.

Mr Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and FAS general secretary Winston Lee were arrested after being questioned and are out on police bail.

Bill was sharing with them very sincerely, and you could hear the loud applause at the end when we finished... Game Changers’ spokesman Steven Tan on last night’s dialogue

Mr Ng, whose bail was $100,000, is heading the Game Changers slate in tomorrow's election against former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong and his Team LKT.

An affiliate member, who did not want to be named, told The New Paper that Mr Ng told those present that despite a tough past week, he came back "to serve" because he feels "it's important for him to do so".

He also told them that he will continue to serve as long as they believe in him.

TNP understands that among the topics Mr Ng touched was the need to revamp Singapore football from multiple angles - administration, the National Football League (NFL) and the S.League.

NFL Division 1 club Katong FC secretary Andy Tan said: "I see hope after Bill made his clarifications and the team shared their plans and vision for Singapore football that we have not heard of before.

"This is the first election Singapore football is having and it should be about football, not politics," he added.

One affiliate from an amateur NFL side, who declined to be named, said: "Bill appeared emotional. In terms of body language, he did not seem any different from before (the police raids)."

Another affiliate, who also asked not to be named, said: "He spoke very passionately about what he wants to do to lift football in Singapore."

Game Changers' spokesman Steven Tan said the dialogue had re-affirmed the affiliates' belief in Mr Ng and his team despite the police probe.

When TNP asked Mr Tan if any affiliate had brought up the police investigation, Mr Tan said: "There was no need to bring up anything.

"In fact, they had hardly any questions to ask because Bill was sharing with them very sincerely, and you could hear the loud applause at the end when we finished... That tells a lot.

"Trust in the leader is the most critical thing when you go into the election."

Mr Tan added that media reports, which suggested Mr Ng had been avoiding the public eye, were inaccurate.

"We have been meeting. We arranged this for him to meet all the clubs," he said.

Mr Tan, a former FAS general secretary, added that the Game Changers were confident of winning the election tomorrow.

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