MP: Mitra repeating Sedic’s mistakes, allocating funds to NGOs which do not uplift Indian community

Yiswaree Palansamy
Batu Gajah MP Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu alleged that the agency under the Prime Minister’s Department has been dishing funds to NGOs which do not help the local Indians, lamenting that the funds channelled to it is not being used for the intended agenda. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — A DAP MP today criticised the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) of lacking vision and leadership, in its bid to uplift the economic status of the Indian community.

In his speech debating the 2020 Budget, Batu Gajah MP Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu alleged that the agency under the Prime Minister’s Department has been dishing funds to NGOs which do not help the local Indians, lamenting that the funds channelled to it is not being used for the intended agenda.

“The failure of Sedic under the previous government should be a lesson to Mitra under the new government, that is based on the principles of transparency. However, it seems like Mitra is repeating the same issues, which would only bring the programme to a complete failure, leading to the anger of the Indian community towards the new government.

“Mitra should rightfully not be wasting time repeating programmes which have been done by Sedic and instead, directly focus on capacity development programmes for the Indian community. Mitra doesn’t have a clear vision and mission, and in fact, is faced with a lack of strong leadership with great vision in planning short-term and long-term plans.

“It is very sad to see Mitra pouring salt into seawater, whereby a large amount of the allocation is given to organisation or to NGOs, which do not help in the socio-economic development of the Indian community,” Sivakumar added.

He claimed that Mitra was also dishing out large allocations for education and training programmes to private institutions, which he said are already charging students highly, and not to government institutions, including polytechnic and community colleges.

“I was made to understand that Mitra also distributed grants to educational institutions with the academic status, which are not registered with the Private Education Unit, the Education Ministry or the Skills Development Department, under the Human Resource Ministry. What is the justification that the grants for the Indian community’s interest are given to unregistered educational institutions?” Sivakumar asked, demanding Mitra for an answer.

Sedic, or the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community Unit under the previous administration, was rebranded as Mitra, after Pakatan Harapan (PH) won Putrajaya.

In July, MIC Youth members led by their chief R. Thinalan, lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), after the 2018 Auditor-General’s Report found huge financial discrepancies in Sedic.

The ethnic Indian Barisan Nasional (BN) component party said it lodged the report to prove that it is clean, and is not linked to the matter, “before it is politicised by Pakatan Harapan without basis and facts”.

The Auditor-General (AG) report 2018 Series 1 yesterday said that Sedic, under the BN administration, had been given up to RM203.89 million between 2014 and 2018 to run development programmes to uplift the poor Indian community.

However, it said the millions of ringgit in grants meant for the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community were mismanaged by the special unit under the Prime Minister’s Department.

The report also said that there were no records or database to monitor the spending of the grants and it did not follow criteria in terms of selecting its non-governmental organisation recipients.

Among the discrepancies it found were that 49 unqualified NGOS were recipients of funds in 2017, amounting to RM18.91 million, 20 NGOs files for 23 programmes worth RM10.77 million in 2014 were not filed by Sedic, five NGOs and one skill training institute did not return extra funds worth RM2.86 million, some NGOs did not spend the funds according to scope and many others.

The report also detailed funds being applied for by the then Health Minister, an assistant minister in the PM’s Department and Sedic itself, which was described as one-off contributions for NGOs and Indian places of worship amounting to RM38 million between 2016 and March 2018.

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