Make sure new funds for Indians not wasted, say MPs

Mitra had previously been allocated a sum of RM25 million for entrepreneurship development programs in the Indian community.

PETALING JAYA: Opposition MPs have demanded an explanation from the government on how it will ensure that newly announced measures and funds for the Indian community are not misused.

“The issues here are transparency, accountability and ensuring that the Yayasan Mitra and RM2 million in funds for poor Indian students are accounted for,” said Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto.

Her DAP colleague RSN Rayer, the Jelutong MP, demanded assurances from Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the money would not be misused and embezzled.

Batu Uban MP Kumaresan Arumugam questioned why Ismail approved the establishment of Yayasan Mitra while Mitra, the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit, is plagued by the embezzlement scandal that led to the arrest of 22 people last year.

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The trio commented yesterday on an announcement by Ismail regarding the creation of Yayasan Mitra and Mitra’s transfer from the Ministry of National Unity to the Prime Minister’s Department.

Ismail had also announced that RM2 million was allocated for Indian students from poor households, while RM25 million had previously been allocated for Indian community entrepreneurship development programs.

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Kasthuri questioned whether the amount was reasonable.

“The Prime Minister’s intention to help the Indian community at all times is welcomed but the issues here are transparency, accountability and ensuring that this Yayasan Mitra and RM2million are all well accounted for.

“Expenditure should be submitted to Parliament for scrutiny,” she said.

She said MPs had been asking for a report on Mitra for over a year since the abuse scandal was uncovered, but to no avail.

Rayer said an oversight mechanism should have been put in place to ensure Mitra was accountable to Parliament.

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He urged Ismail to provide the facts and figures on how many Indian students, NGOs and entrepreneurs had benefited from Mitra’s RM100 million annual allocation.

“This should be stated by the Prime Minister even before he makes any new announcements that new funds will be allocated,” he told FMT.

Kumaresan said the allocations announced by Ismail are “electoral gifts” but would not be enough to persuade the Indian community to vote for Barisan Nasional in the general election.

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