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Double standards on societies intervention?

Just yesterday, former journalist, Suresh Nair posted a post on his Facebook post, claiming that Tampines Rovers, one of the oldest clubs in town, did not make a police report in 2010 when a staff member took away close to a six-figure amount from the club jackpot machines.

He claimed that Former Tampines Rovers Chairman Teo Hock Seng has a lot of answering to do as to  why he allowed the crying staff member, who reportedly went on his knees to plead for forgiveness, get away by siphoning the public money. It should also be noted that not reporting a crime could be seen as an offence.

While there are a few individuals who commented that Nair is smearing the good name of Mr Teo, a Facebook user by the name of Ong Yeok Phee commented that a police report had been reported back then.

A check on the user showed that he was indeed the former General Manager of Tampines Rovers.

Further sources from the football scene shared with TOC that there was indeed an alleged issue of misappropriation of monies from the jackpot room run by the club in 2010 when Teo Hock Seng was the chairman of Tampines Rovers.

According to sources, the person who was involved in the alleged misappropriation was Tampines Rovers' clubhouse manager.

The manager subsequently left the club when the matter came to light.

While this case seems to be brought out of the blue, it does question how certain events unfolded before the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Elections, scheduled to be held on 29 April 2017, which is tomorrow.

As many would have known by now, Bill Ng, Chairman of Tiong Bahru Football Club and candidate for the FAS election, was arrested by the police along with General Secretary, Winston Lee, former PAP Member of Parliament and former FAS president, Zainudin Nordin and Ng's wife for unspecified charges and have all been released on bail.

The arrest was spurred by investigations from a police report filed by SportSG into the alleged misuse of funds and deliberate manipulation of club financial audits prior to the FAS election.

In a statement issued about the police report filed by the governing body for sports in Singapore, SportSG noted that it had received a letter from a named individual alleging that a senior officer of a Football Club had instigated another club to delay and/or obstruct the completion of audits until after the FAS elections, with false reasons.

SportSG claimed that the said audits had been initiated in mid-2016 by the FAS in response to its queries and is concerned with the impact this might have on the propriety and integrity of the audits.

It then decided to file a police report based on legal advice after further checks and information received raised some serious questions about the use of funds.

According to the Societies Act, a complaint of misuse of funds can be made by a member of a registered society or by the Registrar.

If it is shown to the satisfaction of a District Court or a Magistrate’s Court that any officer or member of that society has in his possession or control any property of the society otherwise than in accordance with the rules of the society, or has unlawfully withheld any money of the society or wilfully applied such money to purposes other than those expressed or directed in the rules of the society and authorised by this Act, the Court shall, if it considers the justice of the case so requires, order the officer or member to deliver all such property to the trustees of the society or such other persons as the Court may appoint and to pay to them the money so unlawfully withheld or improperly applied.

The alleged misappropriation of funds and paragraph from the Societies Act does pose some interesting questions.

Was the Football Association of Singapore and S.League aware of this alleged misappropriation and was Singapore Sports Council, the former incarnation of Sport SG made known of this matter?

Given that a police report was indeed made in regards to the misappropriation of funds, shouldn't there be past similar actions by the then-Singapore Sports Council to clarify the matter?

Is what Singapore Sports Council/SportSG imposing a double standard on the integrity of sport societies? And is SportSG setting a precedent with the three football clubs that were investigated by the police?

Also, if Sport Singapore had filed a police report over issues which it found needed to be addressed, under what auspices did they do so? Are they a member of Tiong Bahru FC? The Registrar of Societies (ROS) comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs, so shouldn't the ROS be filing a report if there were any discovery of issues?

Even after a police report was filed, there does not seem to be any action taken on the person said to have misappropriated the money nor was it publicised.

Furthermore on the question of financial audits, if Tiong Bahru and the other clubs had been filing their returns every year, why did ROS not pick up any inconsistencies over the last few years?

Based on multiple Facebook posts by independent candidates for the FAS elections, it appears that the government agencies had been aware of how Tiong Bahru and the other clubs had been operating over the last two years. Why then have they chosen to raise this up as an issue only during the election period?

There was also a story written in The New Paper about Tiong Bahru and Hougang United's model which was published year.

Were the actions part of a deliberate move to discredit a particular team in favor for another?

 

All of the above may be questions that will never be answered, not with the current state of transparency that is practiced in Singapore.