SINGAPORE – Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra has hit out at remarks made by Football Association of Singapore interim president Lim Kia Tong and former Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng in a video interview with The Straits Times about Bill Ng’s motives for running for the FAS presidency.
Ramachandra, who will be part of Ng’s team for the elections, expressed his disappointment in a lengthy comment on the Facebook account of Daniel Yong, a friend of Ng, who had also criticised Lim and Teo’s remarks.
“I rarely comment on FB but this has irked me as much as it did Daniel,” the 45-year-old lawyer wrote. “I saw the video and frankly I found it to be of very poor taste.
“Come on! We are all volunteers. We all put in hours behind the scenes to make things work and certainly to do our best. I know for a fact that LKT (Lim Kia Tong) has put in countless hours behind the scenes so I am really disappointed with the nature of this personal attack on Bill.”
In The Straits Times video which was posted on YouTube and Facebook this morning, Teo, who will be in Lim’s team for the elections, said that while Ng’s team may have “a big manifesto”, it needs to be asked whether the Hougang United chairman and businessman has “a hidden agenda coming to football”.
Teo did not elaborate what he meant but added in reference to Lim’s team: “This group, we are open, we are here with no other objective than to make football right in Singapore, that is very critical.”
In the video, Lim followed up on Teo’s remarks by saying: “… I will echo what he says, that in order for any team or anyone to bring football forward, this person and the team, each and every one of them, must have integrity and the belief that they come here not for ulterior purposes.”
Lim added: “If for one moment, we turn our attention to Bill - we have to ask ourselves, is he of the same mould as all of us in this team, or is he in the mould of someone who is only interested to gain some mileage?”
Later in the video that lasted for more than four minutes, Lim said of Ng’s reported desire to lift Singapore football and bring back the Kallang Roar: “…talk is very cheap, realising the talk is very expensive.
“So we need men with integrity like Teo here, like myself, like the other members who will be revealed to you, to drive the game, to drive it with passion, with a lot of guts and gumption to bring it to another level.”
A new edited version of the video, lasting over three minutes, later replaced the first version. In it, some of the quotes by both men were trimmed.
However, the likes of Yong and Ramachandra had already seen the first version of the video by then, and expressed their anger.
Revealing that he is a friend of Ng, and that he has had ‘passionate discussions of football with him”, Yong wrote: “If there are specific facts, they have with regards to questionable integrity or knowledge of any agenda, I would suggest they show evidence of it, or risk being judged slanderous with their defamatory comments. This kind of thing is character assassination and cannot anyhow say or suggest without proof.
“It also troubles me that instead of telling us what they plan to do for football, half the interview was targeted at Bill and trying to paint him as the devil!
“It's also a laugh really - integrity is not what you call yourself, it's up to others to describe about you.”
In his comment on Yong’s Facebook page, Ramachandra also wrote: “An apology is due immediately before it gets out of hand.
“Honestly, those gentlemen went down in my estimation. I will nevertheless give them the benefit of doubt and say it was uncharacteristic of them.
“However, it was unnecessary especially to single out someone and casts aspersions on that person’s character. This is not a partisan view - I say this with complete respect for the process involved in any competition - but battle must be done in a dignified manner.”
Ramachandra - who earlier this week had called for the likes of Lim and members of the previous FAS Council who are running for elections to step aside for the 'greater good' of Singapore football - also urged all teams competing in the FAS elections on April 29, to do so with 'respect', 'common courtesy' and 'good faith'.
“Please, I urge everyone involved in the upcoming elections, not only THS (Teo Hock Seng) and LKT (Lim Kia Tong), to all - including the armchair critics out there - respect your fellow Singaporean, respect the volunteers who have stepped forward to be counted and conduct proceedings with respect and exercising common courtesy and good faith.
“After all, in the end we all need to work together post elections. It should not be a zero sum game. We must embrace all volunteers.
“I have been saying this for a while now - my ultimate fear is really that more good volunteers are put off stepping up by the lack of camaraderie in service - and such a video doesn't help. Totally unwarranted! Sigh.”
Significantly, Ramachandra also revealed in his comments that Annabel Pennefather, a Singapore National Olympic Council vice president and lawyer, who is also on the International Association of Athletics Federations’ ethics commission, will be part of Ng’s team.
“I put my ring in the hat because Annabel Pennefather spoke to me and said that volunteers needed to stand up and be counted,” he wrote.
“Beyond Bill, to cast aspersions indirectly on his team that includes Annabel (an IAAF board representative on the ethics board - one of two women worldwide) is just not on.”