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HomeOther CountriesMalaysiaSuspended Hindu board official 'under attack for whistleblowing' - Free Malaysia Today

Suspended Hindu board official 'under attack for whistleblowing' – Free Malaysia Today

BUTTERWORTH: The chief administrator of a Hindu assets agency in Penang says he is being targeted in a smear campaign after he blew the whistle on alleged lapses by the state authorities.
M Ramachandran, executive director of the Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB), said the lapses began in 2018 and involved the use of the board’s funds, which he believed went to cronies and for political gain.
He said he had been put in cold storage and subjected to a smear campaign because of his complaints.
Ramachandran’s press conference at Lebuh Kikik here was interrupted by a group of at least 20 people who stormed his office.
Police were called in to disperse the group who wanted to sit in at the conference, saying they also wanted to ask questions. The press conference was later called off and held at a hotel nearby.
Ramachandran denied claims that he took money from the board, hid temple donations or awarded contracts to relatives.
“The only persons authorised to withdraw funds from the board are the chairman, P Ramasamy, and the secretary, R Surenthran. I don’t have any power to award contracts. The board is a public statutory body, not a private limited company,” he said. “I did not touch a single sen from temple donations.”
Yesterday, the board’s chairman, P Ramasamy, who is Penang deputy chief minister, suspended Ramachandran pending a probe into alleged misconduct.
Ramachandran said if Ramasamy could prove his allegations, “I will kneel down before him and apologise”.
Funds allegedly used to benefit political leaders
Ramachandran alleged the lapses in PHEB took a turn for the worse from 2018, with board funds allegedly used to benefit political leaders and given to unqualified recipients. Ramachandran said a private club was also given RM250,000.
“I questioned all these and people got angry,” he said.
Ramachandran said due to his reluctance to approve payments for non-board related matters, he was kept in cold storage, adding that his powers as an administrator were removed.
Ramachandran said he made futile attempts to meet the chief minister Chow Kon Yeow and DAP secretary-general Loke Siew Fook after allegedly receiving threats. He said he then lodged a police report.
He said he would fight his suspension in court, saying it came less than a month after he was given an appreciation letter for his services with a pledge of an ex-gratia payment of RM50,000 ahead of his retirement after 11 years.
Ramasamy’s response
When contacted, Ramasamy said Ramachandran had never used internal channels to air his grievances.
Ramasamy alleged that Ramachandran’s suspension arose over a CCTV project awarded to his son-in-law along with a RM5,000 cash advance project.
He also denied claims that he had sent a mob to interrupt the press conference, saying he did not condone hooliganism.
The endowments board is a statutory body set up in 1906 under the Hindu Endowments Act to administer all endowments including land, property, buildings, houses, burial grounds, temples and money given for the benefit of the Hindu community in Penang.
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