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MCMC spent close to RM13 million on predictive big-data analytics and other unrelated projects, audit report finds

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under the previous BN government spent nearly RM13 million, over a two-year period on special projects unrelated to its jurisdiction.

According to the Auditor-General’s Report 2018 Series 1, some RM12.81 million was spent from 2016 up until April 2018, a month before the 14th general election.

Some of the projects which did not fit MCMC’s portfolio of monitoring and regulating the Malaysian communications industry included procuring a big data analytics system called MyInsight which cost RM4.75 million, which was purchased a week ahead of the general elections.

Others include RM100,000 to donate for 50,000 copies of prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s books in February last year, and a ministerial directive to use RM104,679 on predictive analytics for the Sungai Besar by-election in mid-2016.

The by-election saw BN retaining the federal seat by a majority of 2,289 votes. It was held after the death of its incumbent MP Datuk Noriah Kasnon, when her helicopter crashed in Sarawak while she was there to campaign for the state election that year.

The report also pointed out that project expenditures involving the channelling of funds to other government agencies were done under ministerial orders, and that MCMC’s procedures do not require its commission members to grant approval for special projects.

As of January 31, MCMC was found to only allocate funds but not monitor the projects’ implementation. Additionally, the operating procedure and guideline for channelling funds to third parties are yet to be finalised.

The report stated that after audit checks were conducted on supporting documents for payments, approval justifications for the minister’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) expenditure was not clearly stated.

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The findings are part of the National Audit Department’s review of 74 payments classified as special projects worth RM671.32 million, under the Activities of the Federal Ministries/Departments section.

Responding to the report’s findings, MCMC said all CSR funding for the minister has been stopped, and no funds have been allocated in its budget for that purpose.

“The payment related to the predictive analytics on Sungai Besar election was done for the purpose of special research through fieldwork and online research on behalf of the Minister of Communications and Multimedia as suggested by the Unit Pengurusan Prestasi dan Pelaksanaan (Pemandu) (in the) Prime Minister’s Department,” MCMC explained.

It has also proposed to the Communications And Multimedia Ministry that the Multimedia Commission Act 1998 should be amended to revoke ministerial powers to give MCMC instructions. — Malay Mail.