Game Changers reiterate stand on donation issue
Ng's team want clarification on Donategate; former FAS council member says facts must be established
There is little doubt that the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election is dominated by discussions about the issue of Tiong Bahru FC's (TBFC) donations to the local football governing body.
The National Football League (NFL) side are managed by Bill Ng, who fronts the Game Changers' bid for office at the April 29 election, against a Team LKT led by former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong.
The situation is muddied by $500,000 funnelled to the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Football Management System (FMS) through the FAS between 2014 and 2015, with Ng claiming that the movement of TBFC funds is a question "only the FAS administrators can explain".
In a statement sent to the media yesterday, Ng's team reiterated their stand on the matter, again asking FAS general secretary Winston Lee to explain the situation.
Stating that his Game Changers are "made up of people who only want to serve the needs of the football fraternity and to take Singapore football forward", Ng fired eight questions at Lee and the FAS.
Some key queries put forward by Ng centre on why the donation - eventually made from the FAS to the AFF - was not made known to the FAS' council members as required of Institutes of Public Character (IPC) like the FAS.
Ng stated that it was Lee who had requested for the funds from TBFC.
Lim has reiterated that even as vice-president of the FAS at the time the donation was made, he had no knowledge of the movement of funds, with Ng acknowledging problems with the situation.
"The rules make it very clear that any donations made by external parties must have the (FAS) Board's approval. Why was this not done before the money was channelled to an external entity?" Ng asked, pointing to Lim's declaration.
"This money was donated to the FAS, at the request of the general secretary, and was then paid to a foreign entity.
"This also now calls into question the signing limits at the FAS. Who was responsible for sending the funds received from TBFC to the AFF?" asked Ng in the statement.
In a statement sent last night, an FAS spokesman said: "We disagree with these baseless allegations and will present the details in due course."
1 Did the AFF ask Winston Lee for the funds, or did Winston volunteer the said funds? How many other AFF Member Associations made such donations to the AFF for the AFF Football Management System?
2 What was the reason for FAS to have made the payment of $500,000 to the AFF? Was it for AFF to develop a system for the FAS to use for the good of Singapore football? Or was it to fund the AFF in its purchase of a system for its own use?
3 The FAS is a Charity with Institution of Public Character (IPC) status. The rules make it very clear that any donations made by external parties must have the Board's approval. Why was this not done before the money was channelled to an external entity?
4 Charity and IPC guidelines also state very clearly that donors should receive accurate and ethical advice about the intended use of donations. Did Winston and the FAS do so before channelling the donations out of Singapore?
5 How is it that the rest of the former FAS Council, like Lim Kia Tong, S Thavaneson, Bernard Tan and Edwin Tong and more, did not know that such a large donation had been received from Tiong Bahru FC, and that the funds were being channelled to the AFF? This money was donated to the FAS, at the request of the general secretary, and was then paid to a foreign entity. This also now calls into question the signing limits at the FAS. Who was responsible for sending the funds received from Tiong Bahru FC to the AFF?
6 Winston Lee now claims that TBFC was clear about the AFF Football Management System. On the contrary, even the FAS and AFF cannot satisfactorily answer to the public what the AFF Football Management System is about till today. Is it a hardware system or a software system? We, along with members of the football fraternity eagerly wait an answer.
7 Winston Lee has also been flip flopping in his statements. Early on Friday morning, his initial statement made through the FAS claimed that the donations were made through FAS. And now, it is implied that the money was donated directly to AFF from Tiong Bahru FC. Why a small NFL club would want to donate $500k to a regional football association of its own volition and for no apparent reason other than that it was requested by its own governing body the FAS to do so, beggars belief. We categorically state that all such donations were made by Tiong Bahru FC to FAS at the request of Winston Lee. The former president, Mr Zainudin Nordin, did not approach Mr Bill Ng over the AFF Football Management System at any time.
8 What is the current state of implementation of the AFF Football Management System? Who is implementing this system? What is its total cost? How has it benefitted Singapore football so far?
Zulkifli Baharudin, a member of the FAS council from 2013 to 2016 - with no affiliation to either team contesting the FAS election - raised several issues with this situation.
"Firstly, it is a confusing situation, because I don't even know what the facts of the situation are, to start with - I was a council member at the time, and I can categorically say that I don't know anything about such a donation," Zulkifli told The New Paper.
"Shouldn't we (as council members) be kept informed of such things?"
Zulkifli told TNP that he was a council member from 2013 to 2016 when the term for the previous council ran out last November.
At that time, Lim was appointed as the FAS' provisional council president, with his term of office ending on March 31.
"If FAS is involved - we should take ownership even though we have stepped down. We cannot absolve ourselves," added Zulkifli who was Singapore's non-resident ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2014.
"Right now, the matter is being communicated through the press and, at some stage, I'm quite sure the facts will emerge - and it is important that the facts come out.
"And until then, it's not fair for me to speculate."
The FAS' 44 affiliates will come together on April 29 to cast their votes and decide the next leadership of the local football governing body.