Saturday, 22 April 2017

FROM ‘FREE ELECTION’ TO HIGH DRAMA: The FAS Saga


It supposes to be a ‘free election’ after the world football association’s (FIFA) new regulation on the running and management of local football associations. It is also an opportunity to show the world Singapore can have free election on non-political organisations, non-profit bodies or non-government organisations.

Unfortunately, it is now a high drama. The sage at Singapore Football Association election, whether the election is on or off at the end of April, will continue to make news headlines in years to come.

If you are not a football fan, you may not be interested on the saga at first. Now, it has become the coffee shop talks.

Is this political related? You make your own judgement.

However, some issues are interesting for discussions - corruptions, business models, and future options.

[$500,000 donation]

Is this a key concern? Is this implied a corruption?

Singapore is known for corruptions free and we always stress that we have zero tolerance for corruptions. When the FAS election campaign issue touches on the $500,000 donation, one will have to be alerted about the possibility of corruption. The thinking of corruptions, of course, will also lead to financial irregularities. To boost the case, highlighting, linking and imagining the multi-million income of jackpot machines to financial irregularities can easily catch the eyes of readers.  

Anti-corruptions are the key success factors for Singapore. The FAS election has touched this red line and the police ‘is now forced’ to investigate the matter after a complaint is reported.   

[Business models]

From the business innovation point of view, the Team Game Changers seems to come out with a workable model.

This model should be welcomed by the government. They even think of doing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for FAS activities. The team has proved that they can successfully turn a profit-losing club to a profit-making club.

This is what Singapore wants. If every individual or company in Singapore has this mindset and innovation, then the government will not have to subsidy healthcare, worry about CPF minimum sum or medisave. Instead, the government can increase tax revenue from the profit-making businesses, be it jackpot machines or IPO.
  
There is no reason to kill this initiative - the golden egg. With money, FAS can develop local talents, import high quality foreign players, reduced government funding, promote football to a larger audience etc. Just like what Tote Board is doing through horse racing, big sweep and toto.   

[Out of control]

The government encourages social enterprises. They also want public services to generate revenue. They want all these activities to be self-sufficient or make profit. So SMRT goes into space re-design to generate income and neglecting maintenance. Religious bodies and NGOs like National Kidney Foundation come out with innovative ideas to generate revenue.  

This leads to MRT disruptions and many high profile court cases.

Football club and FAS making use of jackpot machines and IPO to generate income can be an innovative initiative but it also creates potential problems, conflict of interest.   

Is the government worrying about this development?

[Future options]

What can the government do? The past practice of appointing FAS President can ensure the matter will not go out of control. Just like the coming Presidential Election. Even there are problems, like the corruption case of Ang Mo Kio GRC Town Council’s general manager, they can just refer it to CPIB.

However, the past practice as shown will kill the entrepreneurship and innovation. A football club can generate income more than the total budget of FAS shows that there are many rooms for improvements.

However, if the government gives a free hand, many social enterprises , religious groups or NGOs will grow bigger and bigger. Will it end up like the banking industry in the US - too big to fail?

Will the development of social enterprises and NGOs even harder to control than the oppositions in Singapore?

Perhaps, from the wealth and income generated, many of them are bigger than the small and medium sized listed companies in Singapore.

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