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Hindu Temple Chairman Removed in Singapore for ‘Severe Mismanagement’

Sri Veeramakalimamman Temple at Little India in Singapore

The chairman of an iconic Hindu temple in Singapore was removed from the post following an 11-month investigation into charges of “severe mismanagement” of operations.

Sivakadacham was dismissed as the chairman and trustee of the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, a century-old temple on Serangoon Road in Little India, on Aug. 6. He has also been prohibited from taking any active part as a board member, trustee or key member in any forthcoming charity, the Commissioner of Charities (COC) said. Sivakadacham worked as a treasurer of the temple and became the chairman in 2016.

The investigation, which opened last year, showed that 823 “uncrossed cheques” amounting to SG$1.5 million were issued by the temple from January 2011 to July 2014, and that several of them were exchanged for cash at the temple. As many as 45 cheques worth over SG$ 227,000 were given to people who were not the intended recipients, the Straits Times reported.

“The COC is satisfied that there has been mismanagement in the administration of the Charity for which Siva was responsible for or privy to or have by his conduct contributed to or facilitated,” the government agency 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,” Charities Commissioner, Dr Ang Hak Seng, said in a statement.

The operations and daily services at the temple will not be affected and will continue as usual, the COC said. The temple, built in 1881, is dedicated to goddess Kali.

The CoC had initiated an inquiry into the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple on Aug.22, 2017. Sivakadacham was suspended by the COC from the post of chairman and trustee in April 2018. An investigation found “severe lack of care and prudence” by the board members who acted as guardians of the temple’s charitable assets between January 2011 to 2014, Seng had said then. Temple Secretary Ratha Krishnan Selvakumar was also expelled from his position, as his criminal history did not make him eligible to hold the office under the Charities Act.

The investigation indicated that internal controls were non-existent during the time period under probe, resulting in mismanagement and affecting the temple’s financial assets.

Sivakadacham has been replaced by Ernst & Young partner Shekaran K. Krishnan, who was appointed by the COC in April, the publication reported. It also cited the temple management committee as saying that proper board governance and inner controls have been installed at the temple.