Singapore Madrasah makes a police report after leaking confidential files

SINGAPORE – Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah, an Islamic religious school, has made a police report after discovering that confidential files were leaked in an email to unauthorized third parties, the Singapore Islamic Religious Council (Muis) said.

Muis and Madrasah Irsyad, who is in Toa Payoh, were alerted to the incident on May 11, the council reported on Monday (May 31).

Internal investigations revealed that a Madrasa staff member had downloaded numerous confidential documents from the school’s email server without permission.

“After an interview with the said staff member, the madrasa made a police report on the unauthorized transfer of the madrasa’s confidential documents to third parties,” Muis said.

Police confirmed to The Straits Times that a report had been filed and the matter is being studied.

The council said the staff member has resigned from Madrasah Irsyad with immediate effect and the school will not be able to provide further details as the matter is under police investigation.

He added that the stolen documents are related to an ongoing review of Madrasa’s financial transactions.

Muis reiterated that “any allegation of financial irregularity is taken very seriously and is taking the necessary steps to study the matter.”

The review had been declared in a parliamentary response on April 5 by the Minister responsible for Muslim Affairs, Masagos Zulkifli, who responded to Mr Faisal Manap of the Labor Party.

Faisal, a member of the Aljunied GRC, had asked, among other things, for details on any link between Madrasah Irsyad and Irsyad Trust Limited (ITL), and whether investigations were conducted in 2019 and 2020 into allegations of abuse of power in the madrasa.

The allegations referred to a former senior director of Madrasa de Muis, who had also been chief ITL executive since 2014.

Faisal had asked if the financial reports for these two bodies had been made public and if there had been a transfer of funds from the madrasa to ITL.

Masagos had then replied that there was no affiliation between ITL and Madrasah Irsyad, and that the two had not been affiliated with each other since January.

ITL was established as an independent company in 2006 by the Madrasa Steering Committee, under the name Irsyad Foundation Limited.

In August 2008, Muis incorporated Madrasah Irsyad into its joint madrasa system, but the school management continued to oversee its fundraising efforts, including international training and education projects. The funds raised from these projects were intended to support Madrasah Irsyad’s local operations.

In 2014, Madrasah Irsyad’s management transferred the international part of its fundraising efforts to ITL.

However, during a 2016 audit of Madrasah Irsyad’s accounts, it was discovered that the school management had approved a $ 2 million transfer to ITL for its international operations.

“Muis asked ITL to return the money to Madrasa. ITL returned the $ 2 million in full to Madrasa in 2016,” Masagos said.

He added that after a review last year, Madrasah Irsyad decided to give priority to his international projects. Both the school and ITL agreed that they would no longer be affiliated with each other as of January of this year, which meant ITL could no longer use the school brand for its international projects.

Muis then called for a review of the financial transactions between Madrasah Irsyad and ITL, which is ongoing, and will consider other actions based on the results of the review.

The minister said that although Muis had conducted an internal investigation into Madrasah Irsyad’s staff following a complaint, she was not linked to ITL or Muis ’former senior director, who resigned in 2016.

He added that while it was not Muis practice for religious schools to publish their financial statements, each school must submit them to Muis for final audit purposes.

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