Stringent guidelines a must in money matters
NSAs which TNP spoke to say standard operating procedures are strictly enforced to ensure accountability
The recent saga arising from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election has brought into focus the financial governance at national sports associations (NSA).
During the election campaign, it was revealed that a $500,000 donation was made by the Bill Ng-owned Tiong Bahru Football Club to the Asean Football Federation (AFF), via the FAS in 2014.
Ng heads a team (Game Changers) that are contesting FAS' first-ever democratic elections next Saturday, while former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong heads the other team (Team LKT).
Lim said that the then-General Council, which he was a part of, was unaware of the donation.
FAS general secretary Winston Lee said in a statement earlier this week that the FAS Council's approval "was not needed and not sought because this was a donation which Bill Ng made to AFF, not FAS".
Replying to a query by TNP yesterday, an FAS spokeman said: "Like many other organisations, we have in place an established set of financial guidelines.
"As investigations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further."
While sports administrators The New Paper spoke to yesterday declined to comment on FAS' issues, they said their respective NSAs have guidelines on the outflow of money from their coffers.
Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) president Low Teo Ping, 72, said: "We are very specific in reporting our monies, we report line by line to the authorities the specific use of the monies.
"Besides, when it comes to Government grants, we have to spend the money according to what it is allocated for; we can't take funds meant for overseas trips to use on events without permission."
Also, if Low wants to take someone out for lunch at SRU's expense, he does not approve of his own claims, and the claims are not automatically approved just because of his position in the association.
Claims at the SRU require endorsement and approval by the general manager, and his fellow management committee members, for the veteran administrator to proceed with the reimbursement.
He also added that the same systems for finances are applied to SRU's commercial arm Rugby Singapore, which handles events such as the recently concluded World Rugby's HSBC Sevens Series Singapore.
For Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF), council members are set certain cash limits whereby the management committee's approval need not be sought for the NSA's expenditure.
For the president, the cap is set at $5,000 a month, according to its constitution.
SBF president Jessie Phua said: "If the trigger amounts are hit, then council approval is needed, regardless of the type of spending, because we cannot pre-empt what kind of payments we would need in the future.
"We also remind ourselves to adhere to best practices and to follow SOP (standard operating procedures) all the time," added Phua.
These measures, along with an established system of tenders for procurements, have been in place since 2003, when Phua took over.
In 2002, former Singapore Tenpin Bowling Congress president Ong Teck Thian fled the country after siphoning off between $1 million and $2 million.
Three years later, ex-Singapore Rugby Union finance executive Sean Lee allegedly embezzled $1.2m from the association's coffers.
Last year, the police started investigating former Singapore Floorball Association (SFA) president Sani Mohamad Salim for alleged misappropriation of SFA's funds.
Interim SFA president Kenneth Ho told TNP that investigations are still ongoing, but the association has put in place more robust financial systems.
One measure is the introduction of a cloud-based Revolutionise Sports system, which helps SFA manage matters concerning membership, competitions and certain payments.
He said: "Now, we go through a few layers of approval (whenever financial matters come up); the management committee looks at and discusses all such proposals, regardless of the sum of money." - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ