MIRI, Dec 27 — The federal government’s decision to use the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to aid flood relief and recovery efforts in affected communities, has raised questions whether it is legal to do so without the consent of EPF contributors.

Former mayor of Miri and lawyer Datuk Lawrence Lai had raised the issue to the press yesterday following the announcement made by the Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz last Sunday (Dec 19).

“In aiding victims of natural disaster, I believe the government has relevant agencies to handle the financial aid. To use the money in EPF, which belongs to contributors is not right, because these are hard earned money of the contributors,” said Lai.

He added that the federal government should have used the country’s reserved fund instead of the people’s money.

“If they remember, we have National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), which exists to navigate emergency preparedness, processes and resources.

“However, in the days of the flooding disaster that happened in Selangor, the Nadma’s response had been very disappointing,” said Lai.

Under Budget 2020, he pointed out, Nadma was allocated RM129 million and it received RM150 million under Budget 2021. Thus, he said Nadma should be the agency to provide financial aid to the victims.

He urges Sarawak members of the parliament in the federal government to give a proper explanation as to why there is no objection over the utilisation of EPF fund for disaster relief and to question the Nadma’s credibility in executing its role.

“The elected people’s representatives are chosen by the rakyat with the votes. Their salary is paid by taxpayers. If there is any misconduct, they should identify, pointing out and question it, instead of sweeping it under the rugs. Transparency in managing government agencies is crucial to ensure that the rakyat can benefit from it, and not made their life more difficult,” said Lai. — Borneo Post