10 Questions for Yayasan NAAM

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 31st of March, 2016

These are the 10 questions which I will be asking Datuk M.Saravanan, Chairman of YAYASAN NAAM and Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, when I visit NAAM’s office later today.

10 Questions for Yayasan NAAM

1)      What is the organization structure of NAAM[1] and who are its staff?

NAAM’s website only shows the board of trustees. The management staff of NAAM is not listed. I would like to know who is its CEO / Executive director and the rest of the management staff as well as the chairman / head of NAAM at the state level. I would also like to know how many of them are MIC leaders at the branch, division, state and national levels. For example, it is reported here that a Datuk VS Mogan is the chairman of NAAM in Negeri Sembilan.[2] He also happens to be the MIC information chief and member of the MIC Central Working Committee.

This is to evaluate the extent to which NAAM is comprised of MIC leaders at various levels and hence whether NAAM is an MIC entity pretending to be an NGO.

2)      What is the compensation structure of the board members of NAAM as well as its staff?

I would also like to know the compensation arrangement (salary / allowances) for the board of NAAM, the management team as well as the state chairmen.

This information is to evaluate to what extent NAAM is being used as a vehicle to reward MIC leaders financially.

3)      What are the details in audited accounts for NAAM in 2014 and 2015?[3]

NAAM submitted its accounts for Financial Year End 31st December 2014 on 30th June 2015. The accounts showed that NAAM did not have any income or expenditure. Why was this the case? Was NAAM not operational in 2014? Did it not receive any funds or incur any expenses in 2014?

If the 2015 audited accounts are not ready, I would be satisfied with a copy of NAAM’s unaudited accounts showing the preliminary balance sheet, the P&L statement and the cash flow statement. This is to ensure that the funding which NAAM says that it has received is indeed being channelled through the accounts of NAAM and not through another entity.

4)      What are the content of NAAM’s board meetings?

If there were any board meeting minutes in 2014 or 2015 which documents the activities of NAAM, I would also like to inspect them. It is not uncommon for foundations / NGOs like NAAM to have quarterly board meetings to report on the progress of its activities.

Having access to these minutes would allow me to check whether NAAM has regular progress reports to its board so that the board can evaluate the effectiveness of NAAM’s activities.

5)      Can NAAM furnish me with a list of all its programs and activities run in 2014 and 2015, the participants of these programs and how much each program cost?

Chairman or NAAM and Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk M. Saravanan promised that he would give me a full breakdown of the activities of NAAM in a press conference yesterday.[4] I hope that he can follow through on this promise.

Having this list of participants would enable the public know who exactly were the beneficiaries of NAAM’s programs and how much was spent to train each of them. It would also enable the press and other interested parties to contact the participants themselves to see the extent to which they benefitted from NAAM’s programs and to ascertain if a majority of them were MIC members.

6)      Where is the budget item from which NAAM obtained its funding from?

It was reported that Saravanan had said that the RM19 million received by NAAM in 2015 was given by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) under the Prime Minister’s department. A check of the EPU’s operating expenditure in 2015 showed that it was allocated RM48.8 million out of which RM40 million was for the payment of salaries. Did NAAM’s allocation in 2015 come from EPU’s operating expenditure? Or did it come from another budget item under the Prime Minister’s department? Is NAAM’s allocation classified under operating expenditure or development expenditure?

What is NAAM’s budget allocation for 2016?

This information is important from a transparency standpoint since Saravanan had said that the money did not come from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

7)      Is NAAM also involved in other business activities in order to seek profit for itself?

NAAM is the 49% and controlling shareholder of NAAM Trading House Sdn Bhd which lists its core business as the export and import of fruits and vegetable food products. On the 15th of January, 2015, NAAM Trading House Sdn Bhd signed an MOU with DRS Trading Sdn Bhd which is also involved in the distribution of agriculture products.[5] What are the details of this MOU? What is the purpose of NAAM getting involved in business for itself?

Is NAAM getting involved in business so that the other shareholders of NAAM Trading House Sdn Bhd can earn a profit for themselves? The other shareholders of NAAM Trading House Sdn Bhd include Kesavan A/L Kandasamy (MIC Youth National Leader, Office Bearer in charge of New Media) with a 30% share, G. Padmanathan (former MIC FT Youth Chief) with a 19% share and M.Mathuraiveran (MIC CWC Member) with the remaining 2% share.

8)      What are the standard operating procedures (SOPs) used by NAAM to process claims and expenditures it has incurred and does NAAM claim these expenses from the Ministry of Youth and Sports under which NAAM’s funds are supposedly parked?

This is an important point since NAAM signed an MOU with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to support the Corporate Integrity Pledge (CIP). I would like to see a sample of the claim forms and procedures used by NAAM and how the Ministry of Youth and Sports ‘signed off’ on NAAM’s expenditures as part of the monitoring mechanism. The transparency of this monitoring mechanism is all the more important given the recent investigations into large scale corruption in the Ministry of Youth and Sports by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

9)      How successful has NAAM been in helping Indian Youths obtain access to TEKUN loans for their chili planting and other entrepreneurial endeavours? Can these records be revealed?

There have been numerous news reports on how NAAM wants to help Indian youths to obtain loans from Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (TEKUN), an agency under the Ministry of Agriculture.[6] At the same time, it has also been reported that NAAM will act as the middleman to collect the loan payments from these young Indian entrepreneurs to pay back TEKUN.[7] I would like to examine the records of how many individuals have NAAM help to obtain loans from TEKUN and what is their track record in paying back these loans.

Furthermore, I would like to ask why NAAM needs to spend the bulk of its expenditure to help the chili farmers when many of them are able to borrow money from TEKUN?

10)   Why is there a need for NAAM when an existing agency – SEED – has already been set-up to help Indian entrepreneurs?

The Secretariat for the Empowerment of Indian Entrepreneurs (SEED) which sits in the Prime Minister’s Department was established in 2012 with the specific purpose of providing assistance to Indian entrepreneurs especially at the SME and individual levels.[8] Under the SEED program, RM180m of funds was set aside under 5 discreet programs to help different groups of Indian entrepreneurs. This includes RM30 million for the “Skim Pembangunan Usahawan Masyarakat Indian (SPUMI)” which is parked under TEKUN. SEED also works with other agencies such as SME Corp and Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) in order to assist Indian entrepreneurs obtain funding and loans. Given that there was already an existing government organization under the Prime Minister’s department, why is there a need for NAAM, especially when it seems to be duplicating the efforts of SEED?

Hopefully, I will be able to have satisfactory answers to these 10 questions when I visit NAAM’s office later today.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] For the rest of this statement, NAAM refers to Yayasan NAAM.

[2] http://www.bernama.com/bernama/state_news/bm/news.php?cat=sl&id=1205456

[3] The assumption here is that the activities relating to chili planting and youth development is related to YAYASAN NAAM, the company registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) rather than an entity which is registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS). I stand to be corrected on this point since it is possible that NAAM also registered itself under ROS as well as CCM.

[4] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/335808

[5] https://www.facebook.com/datuksaravanan/posts/768011720009801

[6] http://ww1.utusan.com.my/utusan/Selatan/20140712/ws_05/500-belia-terima-faedah-projek-NAAM, http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/121186/saravanan-wants-tekun-assist-indian-youths and http://www.therakyatpost.com/news/2014/07/21/naam-pilot-project-help-500-indian-youths/

[7] http://superteks.rtm.gov.my/index.php/berita/tempatan/6364-yayasan-naam-tekun-jalin-kerjasama-bantu-usahawan-belia-india

[8] http://www.seed.org.my/aboutus/index.php?id=8