On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Ouch, a royal snub

Interestingly, the chairman of Yayasan Selangor is Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid but he said he was not informed about the cost of the luncheon.

Yayasan Selangor is now mired in all kinds of controversies and a sore point of His Royal Highness is the foundation's decision to shut down Institut Kemahiran Yayasan Selangor in Sabak Bernam on the grounds that it has no money.

The training centre, located in Kampung Terap, was closed in July because it was deemed unprofitable. The institute provided skills training for youths from rural Selangor who were not academically inclined.

Its 250 trainees, including 80 who had just joined in June, were asked to leave the hostel and told to enrol in Inpens in Kuala Lumpur instead.

Inpens or Institut Pendidikan Selangor is a private college but owned and financed by the Selangor state government. Many students have complained that the fees at Inpens are too expensive.

The controversy has run deeper as the general manager Ilham Marzuki is said to have bought two official cars – a Toyota Camry 2.4 and Toyota Fortuner, apparently costing between RM187,000 and RM197,000.

Khalid has ordered an investigation into why the GM needs two cars but said it is all right if the new car is provided as replacement for an older one. The issue on the purchase of the cars was brought up in the State Assembly meeting last week.

Yet another controversy involves Yayasan Selangor allegedly paying bonuses to its trustees amounting to over RM5,000. Others claimed the GM allegedly paid over RM11,000 in bonuses without the board of directors' approval.

Then, there was the buka puasa function in August which allegedly cost RM170,000. Ques­tions have arisen over why more than RM80,000 was supposedly spent for the purchase of sampin (traditional men's attire) and another RM120,000 for women's clothing. There is also an allegation that a company was paid RM320,000 to organise a Hari Raya function.

We do not know how many of these allegations are true, half-truths, lies or just spins by the state opposition and bloggers but the people deserve answers.

The allegations are serious as public funds are involved and Yayasan Selangor must answer them. The foundation cannot ignore these issues which have reached the attention of the Sultan.

The wasteful spending has tainted the image of Yayasan Selangor, whose primary function is to improve the state's human capital development by providing scholarships, educational opportunities and training.

Yayasan Selangor must take the royal snub seriously. The Tuanku is clearly unhappy with its administration.

In a press report, the newly appointed GM has explained that the luncheon cost was only RM285,000, including food for about 200 special guests and 2,000 other guests. He also said he was ready to cancel the event if advised by the MB.

IIham has to understand that Yayasan Selangor is not a private company and he cannot simply use this money, meant to help the poor, for flimsy reasons.