In Response to Ms Josie Fernandez’s Letter to the Editor published in New Straits Times on 14th August 2013
I am responding to the claims made by former Secretary-General of Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M), Ms Josie Fernandez in a letter to the editor carried by your paper on 14th August 2013.
As the current President of TI-M, I wish to reiterate TI-M’s position that, effective on 24th May, 2013, Ms Fernandez officially resigned from her position as Secretary-General of TI-M. This was done verbally during the Executive Committee meeting on that date during which the Executive Committee (Exco) had accepted her resignation and proceeded to find a replacement for her. It is very strange that Ms Fernandez continues to cling on to the notion that she never resigned during that meeting when the minutes and the transcript of the meeting bear evidence of her resignation.
To recap what happened, during that Executive Committee meeting on 24th May, Datuk Paul Low had on that date resigned from his President’s post in TI-M following his appointment as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Following from this, the Exco had to deal with the vacancy which had arisen, as provided in TI-M’s Constitution. Ms Fernandez did contest for the Presidency at this Exco meeting but lost, with me being elected as the new President. Arising from this and despite appeal from other Exco members to retain her Secretary-General position, she repeatedly said in the meeting no less than seven times – and this was all recorded, verbatim – that she was immediately resigning from her position as Secretary-General as she felt other Exco members had no confidence in her to be the President. She even told a reporter from the STAR after that Exco Meeting that,
“I had made it known beforehand that should I fail to be president, I shall resign as secretary-general. I have no regrets, and look forward to contributing to society as well as TI-M through other ways and means,” as published in The Star dated 25th May, 2013.
Prior to assuming the post as President, I was holding the position of Deputy President, which was filled by Prof. Datuk Haji Mohamad Ali Hasan at this Exco meeting. In view of Ms Fernandez’s resignation as explained above, the Exco then proceeded to elect a new Secretary-General as the Exco felt that all three office bearers were important positions within the organisation and there was no reason to wait for another Exco meeting to elect the new Secretary-General. Dr KM Loi, one of the longest serving Exco members of TI-M, was duly voted in by the Exco members to fill the position, replacing Ms Fernandez. Dr Loi is by no means a new face to TI-M. He has been a registered member of TI-M since 2000, as well as a former Secretary-General of TI-M in 2009.
I wish to state once again that all three current office bearers (President, Deputy President and Secretary-General) are holding an honorary post within TI-M, and as such their election was entirely based on the confidence and respect given by fellow Exco members.
Apparently after that Exco meeting for reasons best known to herself Ms Fernandez was dissatisfied with the outcome and continued to hold herself out as not having resigned and was in a “hand-over period” and was still the Secretary-General of TI-M. To the Exco such conduct was untenable and highly unethical. There can of course be a hand over period which is strictly speaking an administrative matter between an outgoing Secretary-General and an incoming Secretary-General, but to say that she was still the Secretary-General and
had not yet resigned and would only resign after the “hand-over” (which was then pro-longed by her) was totally unacceptable to the Exco and this was communicated to her.
On several occasions, Ms Fernandez had made allegations that TI-M had “hacked” into her Secretary-General’s email address to have access to her personal matters. I wish to reiterate to Ms Fernandez that an office bearer has no business using an official email address for personal correspondence and if she no longer holds the post of the Secretary-General of TI-M, it is within the jurisdiction of TI-M to override her email password. Being denied access to use the official email of TI-M due to her resignation, Ms Fernandez proceeded to create her own email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and continued to refer herself as Secretary-General of TI-M and making statements purportedly on behalf of the Society without authorization from Exco. Again, the Exco considers such conduct to be improper and unconstitutional.
Using the said unauthorized gmail address Ms Fernandez continued to communicate to the public and TI-M members allegations of improper conduct on the part of the Exco members (despite the Exco giving clarification to the contrary) and arising from this there was a requisition from certain members of the Society for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to be held for the Exco to explain the events surrounding the change in Secretary-General and also for the EGM to consider whether the current Exco members should vacate their posts and whether there should be a vote of no-confidence against the current Exco members.
Pursuant to the said requisition the EGM was convened to be held on 20th July 2013.
The outcome of the EGM was as follows :-
1) A total of 41 members registered their attendance at the EGM but at the time of casting vote, only 39 eligible voting members were present.
2) The events and issues surrounding the 2nd Executive Committee Meeting held on 24th May 2013 including the elections that were conducted thereat and also events and issues which transpired thereafter were clarified, explained and discussed at the EGM.
3) Arising from the foregoing the following Resolutions were considered and voted on by TI-M members with a majority voting against the same:
(a) that the entire Executive Committee (Exco) vacate their offices for elections to be held; and
(b) that the offices of the President, Deputy President and Secretary-General be vacated and for fresh elections to be held.
With these results, the members had spoken and the composition of TI-M Executive Committee remained status quo as the current Exco line up comprising of Dato’ Akhbar Satar as President, Prof. Datuk Haji Mohamad Ali Hasan as Deputy President, Dr KM Loi as Secretary-General, Mohamed Raslan Abdul Rahman as Hon. Treasurer and Committee members Mejar (B) Rozni Hashim, Dr Muhammad Mohan, Dr Pola Singh, Dato’ Dr A. Ganesan, and Mr. Tam Wah Fiong.
More importantly during the EGM many members present expressed their wish that this chapter of TI-M should be closed and the Society should move on with the above Exco allowed to carry on with their work.
Unfortunately, this was not to be as Ms Fernandez was obviously dissatisfied with the outcome of the EGM which confirmed that she was no longer Secretary-General and that all current Exco members remained in their positions as elected in the 24th May Exco meeting. She now says the EGM was a nullity for various baseless reasons. It is strange this was not something she alleged during the EGM itself in which she duly participated to provide her side of the story.
More seriously, after the EGM and despite the resolutions duly passed thereat Ms Fernandez acted unethically and unconstitutionally to continue to “protect” her alleged claim to still be the Secretary-General of TI-M.
The background to this is that following from Dr KM Loi’s election as the new Secretary-General at the Exco meeting, Dr Loi had on 9th July 2013 filed the change of that post to name himself as the new Secretary-General which was duly approved and recorded on 11th July 2013 with the Registrar of Societies offices (ROS) in Selangor as shown on their website. This change was also shown as a screen shot during the EGM. The records show that Ms Fernandez visited the ROS on Monday 22nd July after the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and effected a change of the above Exco line up so that on 25th July 2013, the line up was changed to the effect that Dr Loi was replaced by Ms Fernandez as Secretary-General of TI-M! Thereafter Ms Josie told the local press that she was still the Secretary-General of TI-M.
As this change of name of the Secretary-General was contrary to the Constitution and the decision of the EGM, the Exco duly notified the ROS Selangor that this change of Secretary-General by Ms Josie was not authorised. Arising from this, the ROS Selangor invited both parties, namely Ms Fernandez and TI-M Exco represented by the President, Dato’ Akhbar Satar, Secretary-General, Dr KM Loi and Dr Muhammad Mohan (an EXCO member) to the ROS Selangor office on the morning of 30 July 2013. After the meeting, the RoS decided that it would conduct an internal inquiry into this matter and on the RoS advice we have filed a letter of objection in respect of Ms Fernandez’s actions on the basis that the change made by Ms Fernandez on her own accord on 25th July 2013 was not in accordance to TI-M’s Constitution Article IX (1) and (2) where “the supreme authority of the Society is vested in a general meeting (Annual General Meeting or Extraordinary General Meeting)”.
The Executive Committee continues to maintain the position that all current Executive Committee members as listed above were validly elected and duly confirmed at the EGM on 20th July 2013 and the actions taken by Ms Josie as reported above were contrary to our Constitution.
Accordingly pending the outcome of the ROS’ inquiry on the matter, the Executive Committee will continue to function and operate to uphold the Society’s activities.
For the record, on 7th August 17, 2013, Ms Fernandez has now sent out a notice to TI-M members to call for another Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) with two resolutions:
• THE exco calls for the nullification of the EGM and the Exco Management Elections (EME) of principal office-bearers.
• REQUISITION by 15 members in benefit to address the nullification of the EGM and the EME of principal office-bearers.
To date, the Exco has preferred not to engage Ms Fernandez in a public row, but under present circumstances, and in the light of Ms Fernandez’s blatant actions contrary to the Constitution and the resolutions of the members passed during the EGM, the Exco has issued a letter to Ms Fernandez requiring her to show cause why action should not be taken against her for her said actions. In line with the Constitution a decision will then be made by the Exco, after hearing her explanations.
I also want to mention that the current Exco of TI-M has the full backing of Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin on all actions which have been taken by the Exco in the light of the events which have transpired.
Dato’ Akhbar bin Satar, President
Transparency International Malaysia