KUALA LUMPUR — The government has sued yet another journalist after it last did so three months ago over an allegation of personal enrichment linked to a trip via the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF).
Veera Pandiyan, a former Star journalist and now a columnist with the company, got caught in a tangle for allegedly misrepresented himself to qualify for a course n Germany in 2017, which was sponsored by the agency which comes under the Human Resources Ministry.
Pandiyan’s case is similar to that of M. Krishnamoorthy, a columnist for Malaysiakini and formerly with the Star, over alleged unlawful participation in the course organised by K-Pintar Sdn. Bhd,
In the magistrate’s court today, HRDF’s counsel Vemal Arasan said his client wants Pandiyan to pay back the RM53,000 cost of sending him to Berlin, the amount paid by HRDF to K-Pintar.
Arasan said Pandiyan, who retired as a Star associate editor in 2016, did not qualify because he was not a journalist or an editor then but managed to do so fraudulently.
Plaintiff’s witness, R. Nadeswaran, who was tasked to probe the matter, said Pandiyan had masqueraded as an editor of the National Press Club (NPC) by forging a letter signed by then NPC executive director Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.
Nadeswaran claimed to have known about the forgery after meeting Wong but said he did not lodge a police report. Nadeswaran is now with HRDF’s compliance unit.
Pandiyan denied forging the letter, explaining that he attended the course courtesy of a complementary arrangement that K-Pintar had with the NPC.
“The name on the letter is not even mine,” Pandiyan pointed out, while also saying that several alphabets were incorrectly added to his name in the letter.
“This letter is ridiculous because anyone who’s familiar with the media would know that the NPC is an association, not a news outfit,” said Pandiyan, as he further dismissed the letter which described him as an editor of the NPC.
When questioned about the form that he had allegedly filled-in stating that he was an employee of NPC, Pandiyan said he did not do so, adding that he left a certain portion of the form blank.
Witness Datuk Nuraina Samad, who was the advisor of the NPC, described Pandiyan as still a journalist and that they have been colleagues in the media for more than 20 years.
Former NPC president Datuk Mokhtar Hussain and honorary secretary Govind Nair also appeared as witnesses today, with both explaining that NPC’s role was only to help K-Pintar gather journalists and editors for the course.
“We only helped them get journalists but the final selection was theirs,” said Nair.