An audit report in Malaysia has found that millions of ringgit in grants meant for the Indian community in the country were mismanaged by a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department between 2014 and 2018.
The Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community Unit (SEDIC) under the previous administration received up to RM 203.89 million (SGD 67.33 million). The money was meant for running development programmes to uplift the poor in the Indian community in Malaysia.
However, according to the report, the spending of the grants was not monitored. The unit also didn’t follow criteria in terms of selecting its non-governmental organisation (NGO) recipients.
“There also appears to be a weakness in administration and conflict of interest in the management of SEDIC involving its director-general, a minister and assistant minister in the Prime Minister’s Department,” said the report. “This is because there is no clear SOP as a guideline for the programme’s implementation.”
According to the local media, 49 unqualified NGOs were recipients of funds in 2017, amounting to RM 18.91 million (SGD 6.24 million), and 20 NGOs’ files for 23 programmes worth RM 10.77 million (SGD 3.56 million) in 2014 were not filed by SEDIC. In addition, five NGOs and one skill training institute did not return extra funds worth RM 2.86 million (SGD 94,000), and some NGOs did not spend the funds according to scope.
A random survey of participants of five programmes worth RM 1.9 million (SGD 63,000) found that participants were not even aware of the programme. “All of the participants of those particular programmes said they never attended such a programme. Some others could not even be verified because no participants list was provided,” said the report.
Formed in 2014, SEDIC was tasked to give out grants and assistance to Indian NGOs to manage programmes in aid of the community. It has since been revamped as the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) under the Dr Mahathir government, and is still under the Prime Minister’s Department.