I REFER to Edmund Loh’s “Absurd to allow Kwan funds be used to preserve wetlands but not to save lives”.
One must not lose sight that KWAN – Kumpulan Wang Amanah Negara – is a public trust fund. This means that it is established for public purposes by the government by way of legislation which creates the trust, sets out its legal terms, and assigns rights and duties to different persons or no parties.
Section 6 of the National Trust Fund Act (Act 339) sets out the purposes for which moneys standing to the credit of the fund can be applied or used before the recent amendment vide the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021), the purposes were:
(a) any of the purposes of the Development Fund as specified in the First Schedule to the Development Funds Act 1966 [Act 406]; and
(b) the granting of loans or advances on concessionary terms to the Federal Government or to the Government of any State in Malaysia.
The First Schedule of Act 406 lists out 12 purposes for which funds like KWAN may be applied, one of which is the “development, improvement, conservation and exploitation of agriculture, fisheries, forests, and minerals and other natural resources in Malaysia, and the provision, acquisition, improvement and replacement of capital assets required in respect thereof or in connection therewith.”
As such, if KWAN funds have been reportedly used for the preservation of the wetlands in Putrajaya, the use is legal and legitimate. It is authorised by section 6(a) of Act 339 read with the First Schedule of Act 406.
Now, it is Parliament which creates KWAN and sets out its legal terms. It is Parliament, therefore, which should set out changes to the terms. KWAN funds can now be utilized for “the procurement of vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines for an epidemic of any infectious disease as specified under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 [Act 342]” – section 6(c) of Act 339.
The amendment to Act 339 in a way acknowledges that the procurement of vaccines is not a purpose for which KWAN funds can be applied, unless either section 6 of Act 339 or the First Schedule of Act 406 is amended.
A public trust fund like KWAN is like your money box for the family (tabung keluarga). You and your spouse create the rules on deposits into and withdrawals from it, and to whom shall the money withdrawn be given and for what purpose. It is indeed absurd not to allow moneys in the box to be withdrawn in times of need and emergency.
But let the spouse be consulted and pursuant to which changes to the rules be made.
The Quran enjoins this. It says, “And consult them (the people) in (their) affairs.” (Ali Imran:159)
The Quran describes those who have pledged their obedience to the Lord, who are steadfast in prayer are those who also conduct their affairs with consultation among themselves, and who spend for the cause of God out of what have been given them. (As-Shurah: 38)
In today’s context, the people must be their representatives – the parliamentarians.
So, it’s not about the use of the fund, but the authorisation for the use. – April 27, 2021.
* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.