FAS elections: The Candidates' profiles
The date has been set in stone and come April 29, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will hold its first-ever election of office bearers.
With two factions slated to be competing for the new council positions, Deepanraj Ganesan goes through the prominent names from both camps.
Team LKT (Led by Lim Kia Tong)
Lim Kia Tong
Lim has been with the FAS since he joined its Disciplinary Committee (DC) in 1992, going on to take up a position as FAS council member in April 1999 before becoming one of four vice-presidents in 2007. He was made provisional council president in 2016.
Lim is also a highly respected figure in the international football community due to his various roles at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA, thus a win in the elections will mean that he would bring with him a wealth of experience at the top level in football — potentially a key differentiator in this election.
The 64-year-old lawyer was a member of the AFC legal committee from 2003 to 2006 and its DC from 2007 to 2011, subsequently becoming the DC’s chairman in 2011 — a post he is expected to be in till 2019.
Lim, who has been practicing law for 36 years and is head of the criminal department at Hin Tat Augustine and Partners, also assumed a leadership role on a FIFA committee in 2013 after he was appointed deputy chairman of FIFA’s disciplinary committee on a four-year term.
However, a clause in FIFA’s Governance Regulations may force him to step down from the FIFA role should he win in the race for the FAS presidency.
The name behind recent initiatives from FAS, especially at youth level, Bernard Tan is the current vice-president of the FAS provisional council and is certain to be in Lim’s camp.
Tan most notably spearheaded the launch of The Cubs Programme, a pilot grassroots programme by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) that aims to grow the pool of young football talent in 2015. He most recently launched a new initiative to hold a series of football talks, aiming to give members of the football community an opportunity to present ideas on how to develop local football.
Currently the chief marketing officer of Singapore Technologies Engineering, Tan was also the former president commissioner of PT Bank DBS Indonesia and a former Chief of Armour with MINDEF. In addition, he also has the prestigious President cum SAF Scholarship and the Lee Kuan Yew Postgraduate Scholarship.
Tan joined the FAS in October 2013 and has been on the board of Sport Singapore (previously the Singapore Sports Council) since 2006.
Perhaps the most notable name in the list, at least to the wider audience, due to his political background, Edwin Tong has been a Member of Parliament since 2011 and currently serves the Marine Parade GRC after a previous four-year stint at Moulmein-Kallang GRC.
The 48-year-old is a vice-president of the FAS provisional council and was thought to be the successor to former FAS president Zainudin Nordin.
But that arrangement has since been thrown out of the window after FAS acceded to FIFA’s request to end third-party influence in the association, even if that third party is a government ministry.
Tong is also a partner at Allen & Gledhill LLP, a law firm that notably represented Pastor Kong Hee of the City Harvest Church in the much-publicised City Harvest Church Trial in 2013.
Since being appointed as vice-president in 2013, Tong has gone about his business quietly behind the scenes, with fellow vice-president Tan being more vocal in public.
Teo Hock Seng
Local football fans will be more than familiar with a man who has been referred to as the “godfather of Singapore football” – such is the influence of his figure in local circles.
Teo Hock Seng, the former chairman of S-League club Tampines Rovers was roped in by Lim and is likely to be the latter’s second hand man should their team be elected.
One of the most vocal voices of the game in these parts, Teo is never one to shy away from an opinion while he has also helped countless footballers in their career by offering them jobs at his firm. Rahman Nongchik, Rafi Ali, Fabian Kwok and Noh Alam Shah are some of the beneficiaries of Teo’s compassion.
The 71-year-old’s first involvement in Singapore football was with the now-defunct National Football League (NFL) club Farrer Park United from 1973 to 1981 before he went on to join FAS as a council member, eventually becoming chairman of Tampines in 2000. Under his stewardship, the Stags won five S.League titles and three Singapore Cups.
He stepped down as chairman in 2015 and took a step back from the scene at the request of his wife who advised him to do so due to health concerns.
But the group managing director of Komoco Motors made a welcome return this year when Hyundai Motors was unveiled as the new co-title sponsor of the S.League.
FAS committee member and Balestier Khalsa FC chairman S.Thavaneson was one man many believed would be involved in the elections and the 69-year-old has not disappointed, contesting for one of the four vice-presidential positions.
Thavaneson, CEO at Sports Equipment Holdings, has been involved in Singapore football for over 20 years, having been a part of Balestier United Recreation Club, one of the founding members of the National football league (NFL) and subsequently with Balestier Central, a founding member of the professional S.League.
A qualified Fellow Chartered Accountant, he has been a member of the FAS audit committee and the FAS Admin and Finance committee since 2011, in addition to being deputy chairman of the NFL competitions committee.
His club, Balestier, have been known to work with a stringent budget season after season and yet do reasonably well, exceeding pre-season expectations.
Under his stewardship, the club has qualified for two AFC Cup appearances in 2015 and 2016. In the current campaign, the club decided to sign three Myanmar internationals as opposed to the European foreign signings that clubs usually opt for.
Also contesting for one of the four vice-presidential positions will be former national team captain Razali Saad.
As a player, Razali captained the national team for two years and was an uncompromising defender who made over 50 appearances for Singapore.
Razali also netted in the Asian Cup for Singapore in 1984, the Republic’s only ever appearance in the prestigious regional competition.
Interestingly, Razali is the only former footballer vying for the vice-president positions and thus will bring with him a unique perspective on matters when it comes to key decisions, if he is elected.
Razali, 52, was also part of the provisional council appointed to helm FAS on an interim basis earlier this year after call for elections were made.
Currently, Razali is also a Council Member for Sport Singapore, a position he has held since 2012 and he is also a General Manager at The Arena, a futsal venue that also houses Café Football.
Dr Dinesh Nair
The chairman of FAS’ Medical Committee (MC) and a FAS council member since 2011, Dr Dinesh Nair is one of three in Team LKT’s nine-man slate vying for the council member positions.
The 47-year-old is a cardiologist by profession with the Heart Matters Medical Centre and Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
A key figure in directing and moulding the medical care of Singapore football from the grassroots to the elite level, Dr Nair was also notably the surgeon who had tended to the late Dollah Kassim when the football icon had an unfortunate seizure and cardiac arrest in 2009.
Dr Nair‘s specialisation means that Team LKT has a mixed array of professionals from different fields.
Founder of Garena Singapore, a popular games publisher and also the sponsor of S.League developmental side, Garena Young Lions, Li Xiaodong or otherwise known as Forrest Li is another of Team LKT’s picks for the council member seats.
Valued at more than $3.75 billion, Garena has grown to become Southeast Asia’s largest start-up and that is an indication of Li’s astute business acuity, which Lim will hope to tap on to maximise resources at FAS and make critical decisions.
Garena inked a $4 million, two-year sponsorship deal with the FAS in 2016 – a record in the S.League.
Later on, Li, who was born and raised in China’s port city of Tianjin and has since become a Singapore citizen, stated in an interview with local media that he hopes more companies will take the leap of faith and invest in local football whilst also sharing his dream to see local stadiums packed to the brim.
With Lim’s promise that the NFL will come under his personal purview if elected, it is no surprise that a key club official from the amateur competition is a part of Lim's nine-man slate for key office positions.
Darwin is currently the president of reigning NFL champions Eunos Crescent FC and has previously stated his desire to see his club compete in the S.League as a professional outfit one day.
An avid sportsman, Darwin was part of the Singapore national rugby team in 2000 and has also previously represented the Republic in hockey as part of the national under-21 team.
The 32-year-old is currently the Group Executive Director of event management company, Project Vaults Group.
Should Team LKT emerge victorious, Darwin will take his place as a council member with Dr Nair and Li.