Klang MP tells unity minister to end ‘wayang’ and show how RM9m Mitra funds were spent

The DAP politician was responding to a recent disagreement between Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique and her predecessor, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy, regarding funds from Mitra — an organisation set up to provide grants and run programmes for the benefit of poor Indian Malaysians. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
The DAP politician was responding to a recent disagreement between Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique and her predecessor, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy, regarding funds from Mitra — an organisation set up to provide grants and run programmes for the benefit of poor Indian Malaysians. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Klang MP Charles Santiago has called on National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique to show how exactly some RM9.1 million from the Malaysia Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) was spent.

“Halimah may very well have proper accounts and documents to show the flow of public funds. So, all I am asking is for her to provide the evidence,” said Charles in a statement today.

“At the crux of this debacle is the fact that the funds were allocated to eliminate Indian poverty. 

“As such, we can’t and won’t back off from our demands: enough of the wayang kulit; show us the proof,” he added, referring to the traditional puppet-shadow play performed in Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

The DAP politician was responding to a recent disagreement between Halimah and her predecessor, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy, regarding funds from Mitra — an organisation set up to provide grants and run programmes for the benefit of poor Indian Malaysians.

In Parliament last Wednesday, Jelutong MP RSN Rayer questioned Halimah regarding the RM9.1 million that was funnelled from Mitra to the Social Strategic Foundation (SSF), which is chaired by Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president Tan Sri Vigneswaran Sanasee. 

However, Halimah said that she was not in control of Mitra’s fund allocations and would release an explanation on another date.

In a statement issued by the National Unity Ministry on October 9, it was stated that neither Halimah nor the ministry’s current director general had a role in the allocation of Mitra’s funds.

Instead it said that up to June 30, all of Mitra’s grants were approved by the previous director-general Magalingam Maniam, who was appointed by Waytha in 2018.

Following the end of Magalingam’s employment contract, two committees made up of civil servants are now responsible for evaluating Mitra’s grant applications, according to the statement.

“It’s only so much that anyone can manoeuvre because when caught red-handed, that space shrinks fast. 

“Halimah is feeling the heat for channelling millions into a research arm under the MIC to do online classes for poor Indian school kids during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Charles today.

Charles added that the supposed programme “did not make sense” as children from needy families did not have access to laptops or the internet. 

He also alleged that SSF was a research centre with no experience in education.

“Why use a political party in the first place, when clearly the money should have been streamed through civil society organisations? 

“And why on earth are Zoom classes amounting to millions of ringgit?” he asked.

On Hati.my, a directory for NGOs and social organisations, SSF lists “to conduct social and strategic research” and “to organise social development programmes” as part of its objectives.

Also last Wednesday, Halimah said that Mitra had not been utilising its full RM100 million annual allocation for the past two years, as it had debts to pay, and pointed towards Waytha to explain where the deficit came from.

Yesterday, Waytha denied that there was any misuse of funds during his tenure and asked Halimah to join him in lodging a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to get to the bottom of the issue.

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