Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple chairman removed for 'severe mismanagement' after probe

Mr Sivakadacham's removal as chairman of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple comes some three months after the Charities Commissioner suspended him.
Mr Sivakadacham's removal as chairman of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple comes some three months after the Charities Commissioner suspended him.ST FILE PHOTO

Commissioner of Charities cites non-existent internal controls and severe mismanagement

The chairman of one of Singapore's oldest Hindu temples has been removed from his post after a probe found "severe mismanagement" in how the temple was run.

Mr Sivakadacham, who goes by 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 yesterday.

"The Commissioner of Charities is satisfied that there has been mismanagement in the administra-tion of the charity for which Sivakadacham was responsible for, or privy to, or had by his conduct contributed to or facilitated."

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 more than $1.5 million. Of these, 45 cheques worth more than $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.

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

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

The Commissioner of Charities received 11 written representations and 173 petition signatures from people who wrote in on the proposal to remove Mr Sivaka-dacham from his post.

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

 
 
 

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

Replacing Mr Sivakadacham as chairman is Ernst & Young partner Shekaran K. Krishnan, who was appointed by the Commissioner of Charities in April.

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."

Built in 1855, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of Singapore's oldest Hindu shrines and a landmark in the Little India area.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the temple management committee said that it has since put in place proper board governance and internal controls.

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

An investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department is ongoing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'Hindu temple chairman removed from post after probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe