Charities watchdog removes chairman of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple for 'severe mismanagement'

The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple along Serangoon Road.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple along Serangoon Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The charities watchdog has removed the chairman of one of Singapore's oldest Hindu temples from his post with immediate effect, after a probe found "severe mismanagement" in how the temple was run.

Mr Sivakadacham, who goes by just one name, can no longer act as a board member or trustee of the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple in Serangoon Road, the Commissioner of Charities said in a statement on Monday (Aug 6).

"The Commissioner of Charities  is satisfied that there has been mismanagement in the administration of the Charity for which Sivakadacham was responsible for or privy to or have by his conduct contributed to or facilitated, and that it is necessary to act for the purpose of protecting the property of the Charity or securing a proper application for the purposes of the Charity of that property or of property coming to the Charity."

In April, the Commissioner said a probe found a"severe lack of care and prudence" by key board members as guardians of the temple's charitable assets between January 2011 and July 2014.

Internal controls were nearly "non-existent". Such behaviour had put the temple's funds and assets at risk. For example, key office bearers had "prevalently" issued uncrossed cheques and allowed them to be exchanged for cash at the temple.

Between January 2011 and July 2014, the temple issued at least 823 uncrossed cheques amounting to over $1.5 million. Of these, 45 cheques worth over $227,000 were given to people who were not the intended recipients.

Mr Sivakadacham's removal comes some three months after the Charities Commissioner, Dr Ang Hak Seng, suspended him from the post.

 
 
 

During the intervening months, Dr Ang sought feedback about his plan to remove Mr Sivakadacham. After considering all the views received, Dr Ang is satisfied that the action is necessary to protect the charity's assets.

Besides being removed from his post at the temple, Mr Sivakadacham is also disqualified from acting as a board member, trustee or key staff in any charity in the future.

In April, the temple's secretary, Mr Ratha Krishnan Selvakumar, was also being removed from his post. His past criminal convictions involving dishonesty disqualified him from holding office under the Charities Act.

Dr Ang said: "Any negative conduct within the charity sector can bring about serious damage and erode public trust in our charities. Hence, we cannot tolerate mismanagement or misconduct in the administration of charities."

The temple's daily operations and services are not affected and will continue as usual, said the Commissioner.

The Commercial Affairs Department investigation is still ongoing.