Temple devotees reported feeling “cheated” after news broke yesterday that the key officers of the iconic Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple severely mismanaged the charity and put millions of dollars from the temple’s funds at risk.
Three key officers who were supposed to have ensured that the temple’s administration was safeguarded instead engaged in shady activities; from overpaying vendors, allowing “serious” conflicts of interest involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, enjoying unauthorised employee benefits and unauthorised staff loans, offsetting staff loans without permission and much, much more.
Temple devotees Channel NewsAsia spoke to shared that they were upset over what the a probe ordered by the Commissioner of Charities had uncovered.
One devotee who visits the temple once in two months or so revealed that he had been one of those who had donated when the temple raised money for restoration works a few years ago. Mr Sivaprabhu revealed that the temple had tried to raise funds by selling bricks to devotees and said:
“I, too, bought a brick. We wanted the temple to be built, and we contributed in whatever way we could. So I am definitely upset and hurt by what has happened. We come here to worship god for peace of mind. I think every devotee will feel sad about it.”
Another devotee, Mrs Raji, who visits the temple monthly expressed feeling “cheated” when she heard about what had happened: “Whatever is donated or paid is meant for a good cause and not for personal use. I usually donate money to the donation box, and I thought the money would be used for charitable purposes.”
One visitor, Mr Murali, felt that the temple should be more transparent on how they manage the temple: “The management should affirm that they will be open about matters like this, and assure the public that this will not happen again.”
Another visitor, Mr Prabagar, shared that he would no longer purchase prayer chits nor contribute monetarily to the temple: “I don’t trust the management anymore because of what has happened. From now on, I will just pray and leave.”
Others, however, felt that the fact that the key office holders have been flagged for mismanaging the charity may mean that they are less likely to misbehave in the future.
Long-time devotee Mr Vijayakumar who consistently performs expensive prayers that cost hundreds of dollars at the temple said: “I will definitely continue doing (these prayers). I don’t know what happened here and I don’t care, as long as the management functions properly, I’m happy.”