The deputy chairman of Fifa's disciplinary committee could well become the next president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
The New Paper understands that lawyer Lim Kia Tong, 64, will probably run for the FAS presidency at its first-ever elections, expected some time in September.
This comes after world governing body Fifa asked the FAS to align its constitution to prevent third-party interference in football, and to allow for the fraternity to pick its own leadership Previously, the council members were all appointed by the ministry in charge of sports.
Fifa's request has led to an FAS constitution amendment, which should be approved at an extraordinary general meeting next month.
Lim, who is one of four FAS vice-presidents, did not expressly deny the candidacy.
He told The New Paper: "The FAS council members, including the FAS president, have been installed by way of appointment for at least the last 30 years or so.
"The requirement for the council members to be elected shall soon be enshrined in the FAS constitution. The election of the council members through the election pathway shall indeed be a historical chapter in the history of the FAS.
"I am honoured and humbled by the speculation (of running for FAS presidency).
"However, my immediate task is to lead the constitution amendment panel to inject the correct and workable mechanics and the criteria for the election of the office-bearers."
Sources tell TNP that, for several reasons, Lim would be a natural successor for FAS president Zainudin Nordin, the former Member of Parliament who had indicated he would step down at the upcoming elections.
These include the fact that he is one of the most senior officials in the FAS, having been involved since April 1992, when he joined its disciplinary committee (DC).
Lim, a lawyer with more than 36 years of practice and head of the criminal department at Hin Tat Augustine and Partners, then became an FAS council member in April 1999, before becoming vice-president from April 2007.
He is also highly respected in international football circles, having been a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) legal committee from 2003 to 2006 and its DC from 2007 to 2011.
He has been the AFC DC's chairman since March 2011 and will continue at least until July 2019.
Lim became the first Singaporean to assume a leadership role on a Fifa committee when he was elected its DC's deputy chairman at the Fifa Congress in May 2013 for four years.
At the 2014 World Cup, he was part of the Fifa DC panel that found Uruguay superstar Luis Suarez guilty of biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. The panel banned him for four months from all football-related activities, nine official matches and fined him 100,000 Swiss francs ($139,782).
The source added: "Let's rule out one of the four VPs, Edwin Tong, because he is still an MP.
"But, compared to the other VPs Tan Soo Nan and Bernard Tan, we have seen Kia Tong make relatively more public appearances recently. For example, when the FAS announced a three-year partnership with SMRT to promote the S.League and the national team, and also at the Women's Football Day.
"I believe, with his international football network and his intimate understanding of the FAS, he will make a good choice to take Singapore football forward as the next FAS president."
This article was first published on May 16, 2016.
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