Thursday, December 8, 2022

Misappropriating sovereign wealth future funds: Penalty too light, says Chong

Secara Rawak

KUCHING: The penalty for misappropriating funds in the Sovereign Wealth Future Fund, which was approved was deemed too light and needs to be reviewed.

Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the penalty of RM30,000 and not more than one year’s imprisonment was too light.

He emphasised that the offence was not about negligence or recklessness, rather about intentional misappropriation of a fund worth billions that would be handled by the person in-charge.

“If there is any offence established, it means they have intentionally committed some misappropriation of the fund.

“So in that case we’re talking about billions of funds being misappropriated, then how can the penalty be less than RM30,000 or less than one year’s imprisonment?

“That is when I want to raise the clarification to Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg during his winding-up speech, which he refused to give way on the question of clarification,” Chong explained.

He stated that after reading the Bill and agreeing to the few checks and balances that were in place, the overall performance of the sovereign wealth fund is good, but it all comes down to management.

He said the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) must provide the annual report as soon as possible, citing previous experiences with another trust fund contributed by the government, only producing reports after five or six years.

“So, the definition of ‘as soon as possible’ according to the treasury department can be a few years later, my comment for that, it is unacceptable.

“So I hope that the trust fund report will be tabled really as soon as possible, as provided once every end of the financial year, it must be tabled within six months before the next year end, otherwise it defeats the whole purpose of DUN being the watchdog.”

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