Lim: FAS Council had no knowledge of Ng's donation
Team LKT chief and FAS call for Game Changers supremo to verify accounts ahead of election
Team LKT have been bandied about as a representation of the old guard of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), with former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong leading their charge towards the April 29 election.
Lim and his team have been silent for days as their opponents at the election - Bill Ng's Game Changers - hogged the limelight.
But with the murky issue of National Football League (NFL) side Tiong Bahru FC's (TBFC) $500,000 donation - made through the FAS between 2014 and 2015 - to the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Football Management System coming to the fore at the Game Changers' press conference last Thursday, Lim finally broke his silence last night.
The 64-year-old lawyer called for Ng to open the books of his clubs, a call that was echoed by the FAS. His reaction to Ng's suggestion on Thursday that the destination of the donation was best known by the FAS was a very strong one.
Said Lim: "This is a very serious statement, calling into question the financial integrity of the FAS and it raises questions about the nature of the transaction. The allegation raised cannot be left without a full and proper account of the facts," said Lim, who was "troubled" by the $500,000 donation that was not made known to the FAS council he was part of at the time.
"(That was) a transaction which was never raised in any FAS Council meetings. We thus call on the FAS to be fully transparent on this AFF transaction and also to make public whatever information it has in relation to this matter, and other such transactions made by clubs controlled by Mr Ng to the FAS."
He also called for Ng to make public any information he has on the matter.
"It is not sufficient for Mr Ng to simply say that he has already put the matter behind him, and has not even raised the issue in the three years since the donation was made," said Lim.
"If a donation has been made by a football club, let alone such a large one like this, and the club apparently has no idea where the money has gone to, then the first thing it must do is to ask.
"We thus call on Mr Ng to explain the full background, including the circumstances behind the donation.
"In particular, why Tiong Bahru FC decided that this donation was in its interest, how the decision was taken, whether members were aware of this large donation, how it was recorded in its audited accounts and how Tiong Bahru FC was able to afford to make this donation when Hougang United continues to receive Tote Board subsidies for its participation in the S.League.
"As Mr Ng is vying for the top post in football in Singapore, in the interests of transparency and openness, we call on him to not only answer these questions but also to open, for public viewing, the accounts of Hougang and Tiong Bahru to allay public concerns."
Meanwhile, an FAS spokesman said that the national body played only the role of facilitator in the transaction.
"We thus call on Mr Ng to explain the full background, including the circumstances behind the donation."Lim Kia Tong
"The FAS acceded to the request of TBFC to help facilitate the donation to AFF and this was the extent of FAS' involvement. The decision to donate was made by TBFC," said the spokesman.
"The amount of $500,000 was never meant to be donated to the FAS or any Singapore footballing activity. This was not a case of FAS accepting a donation and thereafter channelling the amount to AFF instead of using it for local football."
The FAS asserted that the total amount in donations received from TBFC is $715,000 - $500,000 for the AFF, $200,000 through a third-party donor for the LionsXII, and a further $15,000 for its Charity Golf Day - not $850,000 as stated by Ng at Thursday's press conference.
"We are transparent in our processes and dealings with our stakeholders, and all donations and sponsorships from our partners are recorded and accounted for," said the spokesman.
"In the interest of transparency, Mr Ng ought to show audited accounts that he and/or his clubs had donated $850,000 to the FAS over the past few years. The FAS is prepared to show our audited accounts as soon as Mr Ng can verify his claim."
In response to statements made from all quarters, the Game Changers' candidate for deputy president, Lau Kok Keng, asserted that accountability for the situation lay with the FAS administration.
He said: "The issue of the donation to a foreign entity is one which the current administration/Secretariat and the previous Council must be accountable for.
"Rather than wait till after the elections are over, it may be more expedient for SportSG to direct the general secretary and former president of the FAS to provide written explanations at this point in time on the channelling of the donated sums to the benefit of the AFF.
"It appears that both individuals may have direct, personal knowledge of the transactions involved, and their statements will go a long way towards unravelling what had transpired."
Lau, a lawyer at Rajah and Tann, moved to declare that the Game Changers will make appropriate changes to processes should they win the election.
"If elected to office, we will no doubt undertake a thorough review and audit of the FAS' processes and records, and will report all findings made in the interests of transparency and accountability, as is expected of an institute of public character," he said.
"We hope that in the meantime, all relevant evidence will be preserved."