The 35-year-old Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents (MATTA) has been under scrutiny and risks being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) following a power tussle and alleged discrepancies in its operations.
At the annual general meeting (AGM) in June last year, four candidates stood for the presidency which was won by Datuk Dr Joshua Peter Tan.
However, a storm started brewing after the ROS received a complaint of 20 phantom votes during the AGM. "Investigations by the ROS revealed that six votes were invalid," said a source.
The ROS had proceeded to issue a show-cause letter to the association for this breach but MATTA replied that it had not included the six on purpose. The ROS, while upholding Tan as the rightful president, had also given notice to MATTA that it will proceed to deregister the association after Oct 29, 2009 if it did not give a proper explanation on the six votes.
After more than a year, the ROS is still investigating. When contacted, an ROS official said he was unable to give a time frame for when this will be, although it is understood that the ROS is reluctant to deregister MATTA which represents 2,800 travel agencies.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has confirmed that it has received a report on MATTA’s alleged financial irregularities. A MATTA official said this includes procedural anomalies into the purchase of a building in the Fraser’s Business Park, Jalan Loke Yew, here to house its headquarters.
Meanwhile, Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun, one of the losing candidates for presidency, had taken the matter to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur last year. However, the court then made an interim order allowing former MATTA president Datuk Ngiam Foon to be caretaker president and Joseph Xavier as interim secretary-general. Ngiam later passed the presidency to Mohd Khalid.
Meanwhile, MATTA insiders alleged that between October 2009 and May this year, numerous "unlawful" emergency general meetings (EGM) were called. Amongst them was one in November 2009 to dissolve the new executive committee. Association insiders claim over 90% of the members were barred from entering that EGM and only about 80 members were allowed. A total of 12 exco members were sacked at that meeting.
When contacted, Tan said the court’s consent judgement does not amount to an order and the final decision still lies with the ROS. "Hence, the registrar still has the power to decide what to do," said Tan.
Xavier, meanwhile, said MATTA has cleaned up over 90% of its registry. Since its election fiasco involving Tan at the AGM on June 27, 2009, the association has been involved in allegations and court proceedings on discrepancies in its operations.
MATTA secretary-general Joseph Xavier said despite constant efforts to keep records up-to-date, it is no easy task to get each member to comply with new regulations.
"At the next AGM, you can only enter as a delegate after submitting documentation" he said, explaining that a delegate is either the director or employee of a member company.
As the year has come to a close, let us hope that this matter can be resolving amicably. HAPPY NEW YEAR