Grants amounting to millions of ringgit channelled to hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGO) to help the Indian community were misused and a part of it taken up for “personal gain”, according to a local Malaysian newspaper quoting a government official.
Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) director-general S. Letchumanan told The Star that a preliminary report by the National Audit Department showed that most of the grants were not used to carry out programmes for the Indian community.
“Instead, some NGOs bought assets for their organisations. Some of the NGOs were family-run entities with the office bearers comprising family members.
“Some of them have disappeared, with checks showing that the NGOs gave fake addresses,” he told the newspaper.
Mitra is the new government agency set-up by the Pakatan Harapan government that won the Federal government seat after dislodging the Najib Razak-led Barisan Nasional coalition in a surprise victory in May 2018.
Mitra replaced the Socioeconomic Development of the Indian Community (SEDIC), a unit set up by the previous BN government and placed under the Prime Minister’s Department.
A number of Sikh non-government organisations (NGOs) had also received funds from the unit, though the collective amount was a small fraction of the sum allocated for the Indian community.
In the report, Letchumanan said about 800 NGOs had received funding from Sedic previously, with most of them facing “problems”.
“Once we get a more details, we will blacklist the NGOs. We plan to lodge reports with the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as it was a clear misappropriation of public funds,” he added.
He said although the NGOs had signed an MoU with Sedic, “there was no legal bearing”.
The MoU signed between Sedic and the NGOs required the latter to have separate bank accounts and submit reports, but were not complied with, he revealed.
In Federal Budget 2019, the government had set aside RM100 million to support the Indian community with a focus on eradicating hardcore poverty.
In his speech when presenting Federal Budget 2019, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the government had proposed an ‘allocation of RM100 million to support the Indian community, including TVET to improve the career advancement opportunities of the Indian youths’. This comes under to achieve balanced development throughout the country, especially in the rural areas.
TVET, short for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, is meant to provide knowledge and skills for employment.
As of March, the report said Mitra had received 414 applications for assistance, with RM18.4mil approved for use so far.
Malaysian Indian special agency all set to receive grant proposals (Asia Samachar, 26 Jan 2019)
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