The Youth and Sports Ministry will be reviewing the volunteer 1Malaysia For Youth programme (iM4U) after checks revealed that it had been "misused" by the previous government to promote the "I love PM" initiative instead.
Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the review included funding for the youth volunteer programme much of which he claimed had been channelled to "I Love PM" programmes.
"When iM4U was first formed, its noble intention was about (encouraging) volunteering activities in Malaysia. However, it has been abused, unfortunately, as a platform for the 'I Love PM' initiative.
"I kid you not. You can check. A lot of funding has been used in that direction as well," he told reporters at the Parliament building lobby today.
Syed Saddiq (photo), who is also the Muar MP, did not provide details as to the amount of funding allegedly misused.
The iM4U programme was previously placed under the purview of the Prime Minister's Department but has now been transferred to his ministry.
He acknowledged that despite the findings, the programme was still useful, adding: "That is why we will bring it back to its original objective to ensure the youth play a role by being involved in volunteerism.”
He said his ministry will ensure that the focus of iM4U will remain on fostering volunteerism and not to cater to the political agenda of any leader.
"My aim is for the majority of youth in Malaysia to partake in volunteer work at least once a week. This will prepare them as future leaders of the country and ensure the young have a place in the process of nation-building," he said.
In an immediate response, his predecessor Khairy Jamaluddin, said it was "unfair" for the new minister to issue a blanket statement saying that the entire iM4U programme had been abused for the "I love PM" initiative.
He said iM4U had carried out many volunteer activities which he said were not political in nature.
"The iM4U were among the programmes that I had sought to be placed under the Youth and Sports Ministry but that request was dismissed and so it was retained under the Prime Minister's Department.
"There were many programmes carried out that were not political, for example, the national-level gotong-royong which involved thousands of volunteers. So, if it is a general statement, it isn't fair to say iM4U was political," he said.
It was reported last year that up to RM50 million was allocated to the iM4U under the Budget 2018.
Opposition lawmakers, at the time, had questioned the amount and sought more details on what the money would be used for along with the rest of the budget allocated to the Prime Minister's Department.