NGOs or ‘se­cret’ so­ci­eties?

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS - By R. Nadeswaran

LIKE many sports and vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions, the prob­lems fac­ing the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (AAM) should be the con­cern of its mem­bers who de­cide on how it should be man­aged.

Once they re­ceive gov­ern­ment funds, they have to be ac­count­able for its con­duct – fi­nan­cial or oth­er­wise – to the peo­ple.

The AAM falls into this cat­e­gory and it can­not es­cape or be ex­cused from pub­lic scru­tiny.

Fall­ing from the pedestal with as­sets and turnover run­ning into mil­lions to an or­gan­i­sa­tion which is un­able to pay salaries of the staff is puz­zling in­deed.

In the past, theSun had ex­ten­sively re­ported cases of abuse in such “vol­un­tary” or­gan­i­sa­tions, but lit­tle has been done to in­ves­ti­gate and bring the wrong­do­ers to book.

How and why it hap­pened has been re­ported but who is the guardian who is sup­posed to safe­guard mem­bers’ in­ter­ests and pub­lic funds?

In this in­stance, it is the Sports Com­mis­sioner and in other cases, the Reg­is­trar of So­ci­eties.

But in the ab­sence of a writ­ten Code of Con­duct of elected or ap­pointed of­fi­cials, shouldn’t they be adopt­ing that all-com­pass­ing re­quire­ment – act as or­di­nary men of busi­ness?

The fail­ings un­cov­ered at the AAM by theSun are not unique or iso­lated.

The ab­sence of whistle­blow­ers and prin­ci­pled of­fi­cials has led to this malaise.

The grapevine has a long list of tales, but those in the know of any abuse or mis­use of power or funds must step for­ward.

At a time when non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs) are sprout­ing up and when it has be­come fash­ion­able to be part of them, ac­count­abil­ity of pub­lic funds has be­come nec­es­sary.

Of­fi­cials pay them­selves hand­some “al­lowances” and other perks; overseas trips on first class are the norm; and per diem al­lowances some­times run into the hundreds.

Such de­tails are not known about th­ese “do­good­ers”.

Last year, theSun sent let­ters to 20 se­lected NGOs ask­ing them if they would open their books. One pro­vided their an­nual re­port and ac­counts. Two ini­tially re­sponded pos­i­tively but never pro­vided any in­for­ma­tion.

Checks on web­sites of some pro­vided an­nual re­ports but not the ac­counts.

Need more be said?

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