Support for Team LKT gathers pace
Kia Tong and Co's willingness to listen and change impresses some affiliates voting at FAS election
The battle lines are becoming clearer, as the local football fraternity counts down to its first democratic election of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Council this Saturday.
Yesterday evening, Team LKT - led by lawyer and former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong - held an hour-long closed-door dialogue session with 29 affiliates at a ballroom in Amara Hotel, where several issues, such as jackpot revenue, were discussed.
The feedback The New Paper gathered after the session, from a random selection of affiliates, were mostly positive for Lim's team, with some pledging their allegiance to his slate.
Sathish Naidu, manager of NTUC Club's youth squad, said: "We've worked very closely with the FAS for many years, including Lim Kia Tong.
"It is good that he and his proposed committee are looking at positive changes for the sake of football, whether at grassroots level or corporate governance.
"If we need to start from ground zero, then I feel his team have the right people.
"I'm in his camp. The manifesto and the points they raised tonight were good and valid."
Siglap CSC chairman Mohd Rafique added: "The most important thing about (Team LKT) is their willingness to change, and listen to the affiliates as to where and how they can improve."
While Kembangan United secretary Moklas Maarof is impressed with Team LKT's presentation, he is keeping his cards close to his chest.
Moklas said: "The dialogue session is the best I've seen so far. All the queries that we had, such as money issues, have been solved. What else do we want?
"The FAS management has to change and, when they say they really want to change, I trust them. But voting is secret; today I can go with Team LKT, tomorrow I can go with Bill (Ng)."
Ng, the chairman of National Football League (NFL) side Tiong Bahru Football Club (TBFC) and S.League club Hougang United, heads the other slate of nine, called the Game Changers, contesting Saturday's election.
Much has been reported in the last fortnight about TBFC's $500,000 donation to the Asean Football Federation, via the FAS, as well as the NFL side's clubhouse jackpot operations.
Ng's revelation of the donation also led to his eventual arrest and bail, along with his wife Bonnie Wong, FAS general secretary Winston Lee, and former FAS president Zainudin Nordin.
Despite Ng being involved in a police probe, NFL Division 2 club Starlight Soccerities have pledged support for the 57-year-old businessman and his team.
The club's president, Buenaventura Alphonsus, said he has "hated" the FAS for 20 years because of its "inhuman" ways of handling matters.
He said: "All of a sudden, because of the election, they (Lim and Co.) changed their tone.
"They weren't like this before. It's very hard for me to accept their act.
"Until Mr Bill (Ng) is proven guilty, he's innocent. For a long time when I gave comments, no one bothered to listen.
"It's a bit too late. I want to allow a new group to come in. Whether they make a mistake, at least they're a new team."
Lim, 64, told TNP that he was heartened by the tone and mood of the dialogue session yesterday evening.
"One can sense that they truly believe in the Team LKT and they have conviction that Team LKT can bring good changes to bring the level of football up," said Lim, who vowed to keep working the ground.
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JOLENE ANG AND MARIELLE DESCALSOTA