Just to add on Citizen Nades' earth-shattering story on the exorbitant claims by the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM), I believe it's time for the new Sports Minister to review the status of the women's division in the National Sports Council. It was established during Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said's rule.
Why should sports be gender-based?
Song and dance while others suffer
Besides, there’s an expenditure for shirts and uniform. Why should Joe Public pay for these people to strut around in tailor-made shirts? Please tell us why they deserve to be given even clothes!
ON Monday, the sports fraternity, police officers and government officials pored over details on the route the Olympic Torch will take when it arrives on our shores. Foremost on their minds was what to expect from protesters – sympathisers of Tibet and members of the controversial and much-maligned Falungong sect which is banned in China.
If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t worry much about these groups. I would rather be frightened of Malaysians who have managed to get a copy of the annual report of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM), which discloses some sordid details.
Malaysians would rather protest against how their money has been mismanaged than bother about what’s going on in Tibet.
Financial statements published in annual reports never go into details, most of the time, being lumped one under sub-headings; but the foundation’s report for last year makes compelling reading. But before that, something on this organisation – WSFFM.
According to its website, the foundation is devoted to the empowerment of women through sports and fitness. The foundation, the website says, has pursued this goal from 1995 along with “our humble quest to enlighten women on the significance of sports and fitness as a national agenda”.
It also says (reproduced verbatim): The chairperson of WSFFM, Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman Said, is a leader with a distinction, inspiring and is truly sincere in making a difference in women’s life. It’s indeed an honor for the Foundation to have the first woman Minister of Youth and Sports as our Chairperson. Dato’ Seri Azalina has always advocated unity and women empowerment through sports. She has motivated and enabled girls and women to reach greater heights. The realizations of her vision and strategic plans have already begun and been proven.
But looking at the income and expenditure, one wonders whether these goals have been achieved. Let’s look at the income: The National Sports Council gave a grant of RM9.72 million and another RM1.5 million came from the Youth and Sports Ministry. There were two smaller amounts – RM200,000 from the Olivia Newton John concert and RM110,000 from Datuk Dina Rizal’s Sports Unite Sdn Bhd.
No one will complain about that. But when the page is turned and the expenditure is listed out, one cannot but be aghast over how the money had been used. Before even one sen is spent, the question that should be foremost on the minds of the people who are holding public money in trust should be: How will doing this help the sportswomen?
For purposes of easy reading and understanding of the issues involved, here’s where the bulk of the money went:
• Grants RM1.18 million
• Meals and Accommodation RM2.1 million
• Media and Advertising RM932,000
• Post and Production RM710,000
• Printing and Stationery RM710,000
• Rental of Equipment RM865,400
• Volunteers’ Allowances RM242,000
• Wages RM117,700
• Entertainment RM1.4 million
• Travelling and Transportation RM858,000
But before anyone argues that this foundation is a non-governmental organisation and the media has no right to question how it spends money, let it be said that this foundation received more than RM11 million in taxpayers’ funds. Every right-thinking Malaysian must ensure that it is spent prudently and for the benefit of the rakyat and not on self-seeking or syiok sendiri projects.
If meals, accommodation and entertainment accounted for 30% of the expenditure, then something is wrong with the system and no one cared for a basic principle called prudence.
Besides, there’s an expenditure for shirts and uniform. Why should Joe Public pay for these people to strut around in tailor-made shirts? Please tell us why they deserve to be given even clothes! Then there’re payments totalling RM250,000 as “gifts and condolences”. What the heck is this? Why is taxpayers’ money being used to buy such expensive gifts and messages of condolences?
And it cost RM100,000 for the “upkeep of temp(orary) secretariat. What? Then, there’s this payment of RM20,900 as “professional fee”. For what and to whom? What kind of professional services were rendered?
Who did they entertain for RM1.4 million or who did they pay that sum of money for to be entertained? Of course not Newton-John because she performed at Genting which donated RM200,000 from the ticket sales. So, where did our money go?
What could have been done with RM1.4 million? For a start, at least 1,000 of those who live below the poverty line could have received RM100 a month each in allowances for a year! At least 100 children with heart diseases could have gone for surgery without having to go on the streets with begging bowls.
And imagine a handful of people entertaining or being entertained while the poor eat kanji as their only meal or while children continue to suffer, unable to afford treatment. Is it justified?
If there’s nothing to hide, just open the books for public scrutiny. After all, our money was used. And to the National Sports Council: How did you approve such a sum of money for all these luxuries?
Don’t forget, the allocation for sports is not for entertainment, shirts or meals. And the director-general and the board members owe a responsibility to the taxpayers by telling us the truth, but nothing but the truth.
and this, a reply from Dr S. Shamala, WSFFM executive director
The WSFFM would like to provide the following information pertaining the above-mentioned article:
1) The 1.4 Million under the category of Entertainment
a. The 1.4 Million was utilized for the expenditure of the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the National Women Games 2007.
The t-shirts were for the purpose of the National Women Games and the total t-shirts distribution are as follows:
1. Volunteers – 350 x 2 sets
2. Security – 180 x 2 sets
3. Participants – 3,500
4. Officials (Team / Technical / Committee Member) – 1,820
The reason for the t-shirts is for Identification of Jobs and Designation. The volunteers need identification, such as bright orange for volunteers and Red for security.
3) 250, 000 for gifts and condolences - were for the free Pillow,Pillowcase, Bedsheets and Blankets given to the 3,400 athletes and 600 officials. The total price is RM44 for one set. These were given to the participants and officials for free because the cost to utilize these facilities at the Games Village @ hostel would require a daily rental of RM10, the total rental cost would be an estimated RM10 * 6 days = RM 60 per person, making this definately more than us producing these items and distributing it for free. Thus, it would be the most optmized decision in terms of cost effectiveness.
4) 100, 000 for the "upkeep of the temporary Secretariat"
a. The temporary Secretariat is for the following :
i. The National Women Games – games village secretariat which provided a working space, computer and network printer for the Contingent Secretariat and the Sub-Committeee Operations
ii. It also comprised of the Secretariat set-up for the International Women and Sports Conference 2007
5) RM20, 900 as "professional fees"
a. The professional fees includes the accounting and auditing charges for WSFFM 2006 and 2007 accounts and the National Women Games accounts 2007 respectively.
Dr Shamala Subramaniam