Minister denies claim of ‘crony’ law firm at HRDF

Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran.

PETALING JAYA: Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran has denied appointing a law firm to act as an agent in collecting unpaid levy due to the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF).

A post on Twitter had earlier named the law firm as Vemal Arasan & Associates, saying it was owned by a lawyer trained by Kula.

The post by Twitter user lovelydarshan claimed that the law firm did not fulfill the requirement for a Bumiputera partner, as well as a RM1 million insurance indemnity.

But Kula, who was a practising lawyer before his Cabinet appointment, said he was not responsible for the appointment of agents at HRDF, a fund to promote the training and development of employees.

“I am not involved with the day-to-day operations. I am also not involved in the recruitment of staff and neither do I sign cheques,” he told FMT.

Kula said HRDF should investigate the claim, adding that as minister, his task was to make sure the fund was efficiently run.

“It must be confined to the core purposes, to train and upskill the workforce,” he said.

When contacted, HRDF chief executive officer Elanjelian Venugopal said the firm is one of 16 on its panel.

“They (lawyers) are hired according to their areas (of expertise). They have to register with us and their applications are vetted by an in-house legal team.”

He also said HRDF normally used its own enforcement team for collection purposes.

On Friday, HRDF said it was taking action against more than 7,000 employers for failing to register with the fund as required under the Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Bhd (PSMB) Act 2001.

They face a fine of up to RM10,000 or jail term upon conviction.