Ac­count for ev­ery ring­git

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

“The cul­ti­va­tion and re­in­force­ment of the in­tegrity el­e­ment among the ath­letes is im­por­tant in en­hanc­ing the coun­try’s im­age in the sports field at the in­ter­na­tional level.” – (For­mer) Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion head, Tan Sri Abu Kas­sim Mohamed

“In or­der to re­in­force the in­tegrity el­e­ment in sports, it is very im­por­tant to cul­ti­vate a work ethic that is re­ally pure and full of in­tegrity as cen­tral to the work achieve­ment in a truth­ful man­ner. There­fore, a prac­tice of high in­tegrity needs to be de­voted in all as­pects to en­able sports de­vel­op­ment which is en­trusted to us can be fully car­ried out.”

– Youth and Sports Min­is­ter Khairy Ja­malud­din

THESE prophetic words were spo­ken at the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the “Pro­gram Mer­aky­atkan SPRM” with Sports Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice (SCO). To­day, more than a year later, we still con­tinue to come across lack of in­tegrity among some of­fi­cials in sports and so­cial bod­ies.

Sports of­fi­cials – ap­pointed or elected – are akin to di­rec­tors of com­mer­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions. They are trus­tees of the share­hold­ers’ or stake­hold­ers’ money. They are re­quired to be pru­dent in the ex­pen­di­ture and take all nec­es­sary steps to en­sure the funds are used in the most ap­pro­pri­ate way. Above all, the op­er­a­tive phrase is that “they must act as or­di­nary men of busi­ness”.

Sadly, this has not been the case es­pe­cially in the much-writ­ten about or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Par­a­lympic Coun­cil of Malaysia. Most re­cently, the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia has been em­broiled in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

That’s where the sim­i­lar­ity ends. In the case of the AAM, it has been strip­ping its as­sets to stay afloat while ex­trav­a­gant ex­penses have been in­curred.

On Mon­day, mem­bers learnt the bit­ter truth – AAM is in deep fi­nan­cial trou­ble with li­a­bil­i­ties over RM4.5 mil­lion. Be­sides, an­other RM750,000 – the earnest money re­ceived for the pro­posed sale of its build­ing – has been spent.

But don’t put the blame en­tirely on the of­fi­cials. Mem­bers are to blame too. Records show that at past meet­ings, only a hand­ful turn up to dis­cuss im­por­tant is­sues. An ex­am­ple is that only 14 mem­bers (in­clud­ing seven of­fi­cials) were present and they unan­i­mously agreed to the sale of a plot of land. In an­other in­stance, 22 mem­bers unan­i­mously agreed to sell yet an­other prime prop­erty be­long­ing to the AAM.

Such a prob­lem is not re­stricted to just this or­gan­i­sa­tion. In most in­stances, mem­bers con­tinue to pay their sub­scrip­tions; en­joy the ben­e­fits and only start fid­get­ing when things go wrong.

Mem­bers of sports clubs and bod­ies, vol­un­tary es­tab­lish­ments, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions are all guilty of this ap­a­thetic at­ti­tude. Even donors and spon­sors who sign hefty cheques as do­na­tions do not seem to bother how their money is spent.

The scan­dal in­volv­ing foot­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body – FIFA – is yet the big­gest ex­am­ple of how lack of in­tegrity and the mute re­sponse of del­e­gates made up of af­fil­i­ates made it the laugh­ing stock of the world.

On the lo­cal front, we are of­ten in­vited to fundrais­ing events. Some have no qualms of dish­ing out RM5,000 for a ta­ble for din­ner or a flight of four for a round of golf. But does any­one ask for fig­ures af­ter the event? Was the ex­pen­di­ture jus­ti­fied and how much of your RM5,000 went for “or­gan­i­sa­tional” ex­penses?

Do the or­gan­is­ers bother to send a statement of ac­counts af­ter the event? Should this be a pre-con­di­tion to you par­tic­i­pat­ing in their fundrais­ing ac­tiv­ity?

In the UK where do­na­tions are heav­ily reg­u­lated, fundrais­ing think-thank Rog­are out­lined the fundrais­ers’ ac­count­abil­i­ties, and how those ac­count­abil­i­ties ought to be reg­u­lated.

It ar­gued that fundrais­ing has been reg­u­lated along a con­sumer pro­tec­tion model that en­shrines pro­fes­sional ac­count­abil­ity only to donors but that con­sump­tion (the ac­qui­si­tion of goods and ser­vices for per­sonal use) and do­na­tion (where a char­ity’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries are the real con­sumers) are quite dif­fer­ent.

In a House of Lords de­bate on civil so­ci­ety

Flash­back of theSun’s front page yes­ter­day.

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