Team LKT: We had no knowledge of TBFC donation
Ex-FAS Council members in Team LKT insist they didn't know about the 'unique' $500k donation to AFF
Team LKT have reiterated that despite having some of their members on the previous Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Council, they had no knowledge of the $500,000 donation made through the FAS and therefore should not be held responsible for the ongoing saga.
At a media briefing held at the Komoco Motors office last evening, former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong, the team's candidate for the FAS presidency, said: "In all honesty, myself and the other council members did not know about how and who triggered this idea of donation or sponsorship to the AFF.
"This is a fact.
"There was no discussion, this subject matter was never raised at council meetings or executive committee meetings. That is the truth of the matter."
Lim was responding to queries about the half-million dollar donation National Football League side Tiong Bahru FC (TBFC) made to the Asean Football Federation (AFF).
Bernard Tan, the team's candidate for deputy president and also a former FAS vice-president, added: "While there is a notion of collective responsibility, we can only be responsible if we know about it and we didn't know about it.
"We were never informed.
"If we knew something and didn't act on it, we should take responsibility for that.
"It's hard to take responsibility for something we didn't know about."
“Myself and the other council members did not know about how and who triggered this idea of donation to the AFF... this subject matter was never raised at council meetings or exco meetings.”Former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong
However, Team LKT, who were also represented at last night's meeting by S. Thavaneson, one of their four vice-presidential candidates, agreed that tighter financial controls and procedures must be put in place for future donations.
Acknowledging the image of the game has been tarnished, and damage has been done, Tan said: "There is no donation policy because the FAS rarely gets any donations. Donations to the FAS are extremely rare, you can count them with one hand.
"Moving forward, should we have a donation policy? In hindsight and, in light of everything that has happened, I would say 'yes'.
"With a degree of confidence, this unique transaction is not reflective of the state of financial management in FAS, which is one of the better-managed NSAs (national sports associations) in terms of financial affairs.
"We have won charity awards for financial management... we have external audits and the findings are actually quite minimal.
"This is just one transaction, it's not the case that the FAS is in a state where its entire financial management should be questioned."
Team LKT were commenting about the controversy which unfolded on April 13, when TBFC owner Bill Ng, who is challenging Lim at the FAS election this Saturday, revealed he had donated the amount to the FAS.
The money was eventually passed to the AFF for a project called the Football Management System, a portal which is supposed to enable AFF member associations and clubs to download contract templates and log into player databases, among other capabilities.
Ng insisted that he was under the impression it would be used for local football and FAS general secretary Winson Lee had asked for the donation.
On the other hand, Lee released documents to show that it was former FAS president Zainudin Nordin who had approached Ng, who signed off on a letter which noted what the money would be used for.
National sports agency Sport Singapore then made a police report on April 19 over "suspected misuse of TBFC's funds and a purported attempt by a senior officer of the club to delay and/or obstruct the completion of audits into the S.League sit-out clubs".
Last Thursday, Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) officers raided the FAS office, as well as three clubhouses - TBFC, Hougang United and Woodlands Wellington - carting away cartons of documents and computer hardware.
Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, Lee and Zainudin were also questioned by the CAD.
Despite some calls for the election to be postponed until investigations into this matter are completed, Tan said: "We see no reason why the election should not proceed.
"We will proceed, we will continue to work and ask our affiliates and show them we deserve their vote. We should run the campaign that we need to work for each vote."
When asked about his team's chances of winning the majority of the 44 votes, Lim said: "We are moving cautiously, engaging voters closely to meet relevant people."
Thavaneson added: "We have engaged our members because they have issues they need to address. For doubters, we need to convince them that we are the better team."