Discrepancies in public funds

Internal conflict is brewing among Saujana Puchong residents movement  Signature Campaign Network (SCT) as the current committee found discrepancies in its financial accounts.

The NGO, which was formed to campaign against a cemetery project at the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve, has to figure out the transactions of its public funds after legal firm T.J Chin & Co claimed that they have received more than the amount that was recorded to have been channeled for legal fees.

According to SCT secretary Ng Chee Kwang, the first term committee members had in 2006 paid T.J Chin & Co RM55,000 for legal service fees to bring the Selangor state government to court; but the firm claimed to have received RM65,000.

“If the required legal fees was just RM55,000, why the firm got an extra RM10,000? How come there is a discrepancy?” he asked.

The current committee, which is the third term committee, is now demanding the first term committee members to step forward and clarify to the residents regarding the funds.

“The first term chairman refused to help us sorting out the discrepancy. This had raised an issue of public accountability,” Ng said.

(front row from left) Ng, SCT current chairman Lee Wai Hong and committee member Lau Seng Yau

“Neither of it can make up RM80,000”

Ng added that during the SCT’s establishment in 2006, everyone was told that an amount of RM80,000 was raised through public donations as for operational and legal fees.

However, when the current members took over the leadership on September 2009, they found only RM27.82 was left in SCT’s bank account.

Through a series of records tracing, they later found out that RM15,000 was earmarked as a fixed deposit while RM12,500 was paid to another appointed legal firm in 2007.

“But the point is, neither RM55,000 nor RM65,000 plus the RM27,500 above could make up a RM80,000. So how much funds did we really raise in the first place?” Ng added.

The committee had issued three letters to T.J Chin & Co to request a breakdown of expenses on the purported amount ofRM65,000, to which the legal firm has yet to respond.

Hence, the members have appointed another lawyer at their own expenses to pursuit the request.

Lau: human greed most likely the reason

Committee member Lau Seng You expressed that human greed is most likely the reason behind these discrepancies.

He however promised that if SCT can get back its entitled funds, it will be donated to culture and education-based organizations.

“(The fund) came from the public somehow,” he said.

SCT dropped court case against Selangor government

Meanwhile, SCT is planning to dissolve its body by June next year as their six-year struggle had finally reached a happy ending.

Selangor exco Teresa Kok on July announced that the cemetery project on the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve plot was shelved. Instead, the plot near to Saujana Puchong was officially gazetted as part of the forest reserve.

Following this, SCT had officially reached an out-of-court settlement with the Selangor government last Friday.

“We feel happy because after six years of struggle, all fellow residents can now enjoy peace of mind and start focusing on their future plans,” Lau said.