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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Mitra funds: What is Unity Ministry trying to hide, asks Kulasegaran

A DAP leader has condemned the National Unity Ministry for not providing a briefing about the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra), whose funds had allegedly been embezzled.

M Kulasegaran (above), who is DAP vice-president, said the decision by minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique came as a shock, as it was promised before that a briefing on the matter would be held this Jan 14.

According to him, the public has been waiting to hear details about Mitra and the alleged misappropriation of its funds.

"So, what is the ministry trying to hide by holding a briefing but excluding topics about Mitra," he told Malaysiakini.

According to the Ipoh Barat MP, Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun was informed of the cancellation by Halimah.

He also said the speaker confirmed that a briefing session to be held in Parliament would only discuss the government's Indian Community Action Plan, not Mitra.

Prior to this, Kulasegaran, who is a former human resources minister, said Halimah should reevaluate the need to discuss the Mitra issue.

He said discussion about it is crucial because Mitra funds could bring a lot of changes to the lives of the Indian community.

"Any discussion would be useless if we do not touch on the wrongdoings that happened in Mitra.

"The minister has to handle the issue in Mitra. She needs to be brave and honest when facing this complex problem.

"Do not try to cover for this heinous crime," he said.

Kulasegaran added that the Mitra scandal must be investigated because it involved alleged misappropriation of millions of ringgit meant for socio-economic programmes for the Indian community in Malaysia.

He said it also involves alleged mismanagement of funds over several years that saw over RM400 million, which was earmarked to help the poor, not reaching its target.

Under MACC investigation

Halimah, on Nov 17, promised the Dewan Rakyat she would give opposition MPs a chance to bring up the Mitra issue during a special engagement session.

Prior to this, she said the decision not to answer questions regarding Mitra in Parliament was based on MACC's advice, as it might jeopardise an ongoing investigation.

Issues about Mitra came under the spotlight recently following the arrests of several company directors involved in handling Mitra grants.

A total of 337 companies, associations, and NGOs had been identified as recipients of Mitra funds between 2019 and 2021, with a total amount of about RM203 million.

On Nov 22, MACC said they were almost done with their investigations against 10 of the companies involved.

MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said at the time that investigation papers would be submitted to the deputy public prosecutor with a recommendation to charge the companies in court. - Mkini

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