I refer to the articles “Football: Winston Lee releases evidence to prove Bill Ng was aware $500k donation was for Asean Football Federation” and “Football: Asean Football Federation issues conflicting statements over $500,000 donation from S’pore on the same day” (Straits Times, Apr 18).
The former states that “Football Association of Singapore (FAS) general secretary Winston Lee has released evidence to show that Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng was aware that a $500,000 donation was meant for the Asean Football Federation.
The Straits Times received a statement from Lee on Tuesday (April 18) evening with scans of a letter titled “Request for donation” between Ng and former FAS president Zainudin Nordin in which Ng says, “I am happy to inform you that fihat we will contribute S$500,000 to ASEAN Football Federation through FAS to develop this Football Management System”.
Lee’s letter is also accompanied by cheques, some of which appear to bear Ng’s signature, made payable to the FAS totalling $500,000. There are also payment vouchers from Tiong Bahru FC which are documented as “BEING PAYMENT FOR SPONSORSHIP OF AFF FOOTBALL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS”.
In his statement, Lee said: “On 9 October 2014, Bill Ng wrote to Zainudin Nordin to thank the latter for ‘sharing’ AFF’s Football Management System with him. Bill Ng went on to say that ‘we’ (Tiong Bahru) will contribute $500,000 to Asean Football Federation through FAS to develop this Football Management System.”
“It is clear that Bill Ng and Zainudin Nordin discussed the AFF Football Management System sometime prior to 9 October 2014, when this letter was sent. Pursuant to this discussion, Bill Ng agreed to make a donation of $500,000 to AFF, through FAS. Without a doubt, from his very own letter, Bill Ng knew that the donation was being made to AFF, and it was he who settled on donating $500,000 to this cause.
“Following this, between December 2014 and September 2015, five cheques were drawn up by Tiong Bahru. These were made payable to FAS. However, each and every cheque was also accompanied by a payment voucher which makes clear Tiong Bahru’s instruction that the cheque was ‘being payment for sponsorship of AFF Football Management Systems’. Again, Bill Ng was well aware because he signed the cheques and also some of the payment vouchers. The amounts, totalling S$500,000, were accordingly sent on to AFF by FAS.”
Lee added: “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.
“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.”
Ng’s electoral team will issue a reply later on Tuesday.”
The latter article states that “Barely five hours after saying on Tuesday (April 18) that it was the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) that had made a $500,000 donation to the Asean Football Federation (AFF), the regional body made another abrupt U-turn.
At 5.30pm, it issued a new statement that indicated that it was National Football League (NFL) club Tiong Bahru FC that made the donation to the AFF through the FAS.
The latest AFF statement said: “We received a number of media queries seeking clarification on the statement published on our website earlier, the Asean Football Federation is indeed aware that the $500,000 donation received via FA of Singapore did come from an NFL club based in Singapore.
“We apologise if our earlier statement had caused any confusion.”
With talk in the local football fraternity dominated by the $500,000 donation made by Tiong Bahru FC that ended up with the AFF, the controversy escalated when the Asean body published a statement published on its website on Tueday morning (http://www.aseanfootball.org/v2/2017/04/aff-press-statement/). In the statement, the regional governing body seemed to contradict itself by saying that it was the FAS that had donated the sum to the federation.
This is in contrast to last Friday, when it named a NFL club as the donor for a football management portal to improve governance, information technology and finance matters.”
As to “The AFF said on Tuesday noon: “The AFF Council members were informed at the 3rd Council Meeting held on 6 December 2015, that the FA Singapore had donated a sum of SGD500,000 on 4 November 2015 as a payment to develop the System. The Council recorded its thanks and appreciation to FA Singapore for their effort to make the project a reality.”
But early Friday morning, an AFF spokesman said through an FAS-issued statement: “We are thankful to our donors and partners who have come on board to support this new programme, including one of the FAS’ NFL clubs who donated $500,000 towards the system” – since the donations were “directly” from Tiong Bahru FC to the AFF – why did it apparently take about 11 months (“between December 2014 and September 2015, five cheques were drawn up by Tiong Bahru. These were made payable to FAS”, for the $500,000 to be given in one payment to the AFF on 4 November 2015?
Leong Sze Hian