SINGAPORE: The general secretary of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Tuesday (Apr 18) produced evidence to show that Tiong Bahru Football Club chairman Bill Ng was aware that his S$500,000 donation was meant for the Asean Football Federation (AFF), and that he had been approached by then-FAS president Zainudin Nordin to make the donation to AFF.
In a statement sent to the media on Tuesday, FAS general secretary Winston Lee said that the allegations by Mr Ng “are all patently false” and invited him to clarify this, and specifically to explain “why he has chosen to present a wholly untrue account of the facts”.
Mr Ng is vying for the FAS presidency and leads the Team Game Changers slate in the football association's leadership election on Apr 29. In an earlier media conference revealing his team's manifesto, Mr Ng said that he was unaware of where the sum of money had gone. He later told TODAY newspaper that he thought the donation would be used to benefit local football.
Mr Lee refuted this. “The following facts, and the supporting documents, will make that clear,” he said in Tuesday's media release, which included a copy of a letter from Mr Ng to former FAS president Zainudin Nordin dated Oct 9, 2014, as well as scanned copies of cheques, some of which appear to bear Mr Ng's signature.
In the letter, Mr Ng thanked Mr Zainudin for “sharing” AFF’s Football Management System with him. “I am happy to inform you that that (sic) we will contribute S$500,000 to ASEAN Football Federation through FAS to develop this Football Management System,” wrote Mr Ng.
Subsequently, between December 2014 and September 2015, five cheques were drawn up by Tiong Bahru FC and made payable to FAS.
FAS said each cheque was also accompanied by a payment voucher, which made clear Tiong Bahru FC’s instruction that the cheque was “being payment for sponsorship of AFF Football Management System”.
“The above makes it clear that Bill Ng was not only intimately aware that the donation was going to AFF, but it was he who decided the purpose and the amount. He also gave the express instruction that the full amount was to go to AFF, and not to local football as he now claims,” said Mr Lee.
He added: “Accordingly, his statements that he was not aware, or that he thought the donation was strictly to benefit Singapore football are false.
"Regrettably, I believe Bill Ng’s statement was intended to insinuate financial impropriety within FAS and to damage the credibility of FAS and myself. Given these clear facts which show otherwise, I call on Bill Ng to wholly and unconditionally apologise for his statements.”
"I am also puzzled by why Bill Ng would go to great lengths to insist that Zainudin had no role to play in this donation. Again, this is clearly false and Bill Ng must come clean as to why he chose to hide Zainudin’s role in the transaction," he added.
IT WAS WINSTON LEE WHO ASKED FOR THE DONATION: BILL NG
Mr Ng refuted Mr Lee’s account in a statement to the media late Tuesday evening, reiterating that all discussions, as well as the request for the donation "came from Winston Lee".
“Winston Lee seems to have conveniently forgotten the sequence of events which led to the donation of S$500,000 made by TBFC (Tiong Bahru FC) to the FAS,” Mr Ng wrote.
“It was Winston Lee who met me on multiple occasions in 2014 to seek the donations from TBFC for a football management system to be developed for the benefit of Singapore football and ASEAN football.”
Mr Ng said he was directed by Mr Lee to reproduce a letter - which Mr Lee had prepared - using the Tiong Bahru FC letterhead. The letter, which was addressed to Mr Zainudin, confirmed the "request to donate".
“It was in this letter that the term ‘AFF Football Management System’ was first used,” said Mr Ng. “As such, all payment vouchers to the FAS thereafter by administrative staff of TBFC adopted this term.”
“I have never dealt with Mr Zainudin Nordin on the matter of the donation to fund the Football Management System at any point,” he added.
Mr Ng added that when Tiong Bahru FC agreed to Mr Lee’s request for a donation, it was “strictly on the basis that the money was to be used to develop a system which would benefit Singapore football”.
“The money donated by TBFC was supposed to benefit Singapore football. How has the AFF Football Management System benefited Singapore football?” asked Mr Ng.
Channel NewsAsia has reached out to Mr Zainudin for his response.