By Safhras Khan and Nicholas Yong
The newly elected Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council said it will work hard to heal Singapore football and bring the sport back to its glory days after the conclusion of the inaugural FAS elections on Saturday (29 April).
New FAS President Lim Kia Tong said at the 15-member council’s first press conference that the work to improve the Republic’s number one sport will “start now”.
Speaking to the media at the Black Box in Singapore Sports Hub, where the elections were held, Lim said that his team calls on everyone in the football fraternity to play a part.
“History will be the ultimate judge as to what happens tomorrow onwards. We certainly need to come together to make football our number one sport again.
“So with that, I call upon everyone in the community – the players, coaches, media, fans and even our opponents today – to set aside our differences and to work together for the good of Singapore football,” Lim said, adding that his immediate priority is to have a meeting on Tuesday with all the council members and also to meet up with the FAS staff.
Lim and his team, known as Team LKT, beat Team Changers, led by Hougang United and Tiong Bahru FC Chairman Bill Ng. Team LKT won by 30 votes to 13 votes for the slate of nine council members while six other candidates aligned with the team secured the remaining six council seats.
The strong mandate, according to Edwin Tong, one of the four Vice-Presidents elected, is a combination of several factors. He said the team has been very sincere in wanting to engage with the football fraternity and coming up with “very clear” programmes that it wants to implement.
“At the end of the day, there is also a sense of trust in the integrity of the team and the belief that this is the team to take Singapore football forward,” he said.
More transparency needed
Bernard Tan, the newly elected Deputy President, said that the council will strengthen the governance of the association, with a focus on transparency.
The council was pressed by the reporters at the conference to elaborate on the governance of FAS and the recent $500,000 donation fiasco that saw among others, FAS Secretary-General Winston Lee being arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD). Tan said that in previous FAS councils, decisions were not made in a consultative manner.
“What we want to do in this new council is be exactly that, to have this spirit of inclusiveness in which we have consultation with the stakeholders and whenever we are making policy.
“That’s what we have promised moving forward,” said Tan.
The council did not want to speculate about Lee’s future, with Lim saying that the future of any FAS staff will be dealt with behind closed doors.
“We have to respect the terms of the employment contract. We have to respect all the other aspects relating to the management of staff. So we will not make any comment as to his future.
“I think that will be best left to be decided much later,” added Lim.
Vote of confidence for new council
Lim also thanked the affiliated clubs who voted for his team, calling it a strong mandate for its vision.
The council will carry out its duties with a “good level of integrity” and changes will be carefully considered before they are implemented.
“We will not be like sheriffs going into a town with guns blazing,” he said.
Tan said the elections signal a fresh start for the association, and the council will strive to manage the complex football eco-system better in order to move it forward.
“This is a fresh chapter in Singapore football and we are here to work together. The affiliates voted for a slate that have a system,” he added.
When contacted, former head coach of Hougang Football Club, Johana Johari, congratulated the new council but warned that Lim and his team must act immediately and “double up” their efforts to clean up the FAS.
Johana said that the council has inherited many serious issues left behind by its predecessors.
“The association needs a complete overhaul and it is a challenging task. It is interesting to see how the new council will manage and handle all outstanding issues,” said Johana.
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