Lim Kia Tong promises 'sweeping changes' for Singapore football
Newly elected FAS president and team promises to 'work tirelessly to bring back the glory days'
The message was a simple one, and clearly delivered: Team LKT will not carry any baggage from the now-tainted past, and will instead look for a fresh start for football here, as they usher in a new era that they hope will be defined by inclusiveness and transparency.
Lim Kia Tong's team beat Bill Ng's Game Changers at the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election on Saturday morning, earning the mandate from the FAS' 44 affiliates with a resounding win of 30 votes to 13.
One vote was spoilt, but that would have made little difference, with Team LKT's 30 votes already meeting the two-thirds majority needed to win after just the first round of voting.
The team also swept all six independent council member slots available, to form an all-Team LKT FAS Council that will lead football for the next four years.
"Today was not a victory for Team LKT, it was a victory for Singapore football. This is the mandate that will bring sweeping changes to Singapore football," said Lim, a 64-year-old lawyer.
"I think (there is a) sense of trust in the integrity of the team, and that (there is a) belief that this is the team to take Singapore football forward."
"The real work starts now and my team and I promise that we will work tirelessly to heal Singapore football and bring back the glory days"
All six of Lim's executive committee - made up of the president, deputy president (Bernard Tan), and four vice-presidents (Teo Hock Seng, S. Thavaneson, Razali Saad and Edwin Tong) - may have been part of various FAS leadership groups in the past, but Tan drew a line in the sand behind Team LKT.
"It's a fresh start, don't look to the past, this is a time for optimism. The voters have given us the mandate, they've given us the trust - let's put the past behind," he said, asserting that an inclusive and consultative approach will be the leadership style of this new council.
Tan believes that having the experience of working with previous FAS councils, is in fact a big help, and that experience is fleshed out in the team's manifesto.
"The manifesto was made with some experience - we've seen the council from the inside, and we've put down things we think we can achieve," he said, pointing to the example of facilities, an issue that has been a bugbear for all concerned in the sport.
As part of the previous council, Tan has already made inroads into the Singapore Land Authority and the Housing Development Board to free up spaces for play.
"I know what the obstacles are, and some of them are non-financial... it's not really resources. We know the issues, and we know they can be overcome, and we're quite confident to put it in the manifesto, and strive to achieve it," he added.
Donategate - the $500,000 donation made from Ng's Tiong Bahru FC to the Asean Football Federation through the FAS - has dominated headlines in the lead-up to the FAS election.
It has highlighted the gaps in governance and transparency that allowed the monies to pass through the association without knowledge of the previous council, and those will be key factors addressed by Lim's team.
"Given the events of the past weeks, It is essential for the FAS Council to address the issue of governance, and of the clubs involved in the issues relating to the gaming machines," said Tan.
"It will be a challenging time, but it is one of the first things we need to put right."
But this will not be done at the expense of unity in the fraternity.
While Team LKT declined to comment on the authorities' ongoing investigations into Donategate and the situation around it, vice-president Edwin Tong asserted that Ng and his Game Changers have a part to play in the changes that Singapore football will witness in the months ahead.
"This has really brought to the fore various personalities from different stakeholder groups, who all have a desire to serve Singapore football, and I don't doubt that many members of Game Changers have that desire," said the lawyer and Member of Parliament.
"As long as we have that communication line open, we can always tap on each other.
"We continue to welcome anyone who has positive, selfless ideas for the good of Singapore football."
Said Lim: "Today, the voters sent out a resounding statement about the kind of values it embraces. This will be the foundation that our future will be built on."
ELECTED FAS COUNCIL
President: Lim Kia Tong
Deputy president: Bernard Tan
Vice-presidents: Teo Hock Seng, S. Thavaneson, Razali Saad, Edwin Tong
Council members: Dinesh Nair, Forrest Li, Darwin Jalil, Lim Tong Hai, Sharda Parvin, Yakob Hashim, Kelvin Teo, Michael Foo, Rizal Rasudin
FAS election result: What others say
"With the conclusion of its first election, the new leadership of FAS should engage its stakeholders, and rebuild trust and confidence with the stakeholders and the public.
"The fraternity should put aside its differences and unite to work together for the future of football in Singapore.
"There are pressing issues for the FAS leadership team to address, including the development of local football and the future of the S.League.
"It is critical that the new FAS leadership prioritises the review of its internal governance structures and processes, to implement a more robust system going forward."
- Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu
"SportSG would like to congratulate the FAS for successfully conducting its elections, and wish the new FAS Council all the very best in leading the football fraternity in Singapore.
"The elected FAS leadership should continue to engage their stakeholders to unite and grow the sport.
"As a registered charity and Institution of a Public Character (IPC), the FAS must maintain a high standard of regulatory compliance and best practice.
"Future public funding support will very much depend on this, and the confidence in the FAS's strategies, plans and actions to develop football in Singapore and our national teams.
"ActiveSG and the FAS, together with other partners, are already collaborating to enhance the quality and access to junior football programmes.
"SportSG looks forward to working with Mr Lim Kia Tong and his team on all other aspects of football ecosystem development in Singapore."
- Sport Singapore CEO Lim Teck Yin
"Everything has been done in accordance with the statutes and electoral codes so we are very happy with the way FAS Singapore has conducted the process.
"Fifa is here to support, a 100 per cent, the new president... the Fifa president will meet with the new FAS president to discuss funding projects.
"We have a Fifa forward-funding where we give US$1.25 million every year to all the 211 member associations.
"The FAS, being one of our members, are also in line to receive this funding.
"But, (it's) based on whatever special projects they want to initiate. We are now in discussion with regard to the key projects under the strategic objectives of FAS to develop football in Singapore.
- Fifa representative Sanjeevan Balasingam