MDA's problematic corporate governance continues

~By: Ng Yi Shu and additional reporting by Ravi Philemon~

A recent report [1] has again highlighted the apparent poor corporate governance in the Media development Authority of Singapore (MDA).

The media report states that MDA is suing RGM Group (an Australian talent management company) for multiple breaches of contract. MDA is trying to recover $27.5 million from RGM, which it had disbursed over four separate agreements between 2006 and 2010.

A TOC reader commenting on MDA's attempt to recover $27.5 million from RGM on his Facebook says, " wow – seriously MDA, you pumped in this much to attract a foreign media company only to get screwed over by them, yet neglect your own homegrown talent. i don't know about you but in most other civilized countries i know, it's called DISCRIMINATION."

Filmmaker Martyn See commenting on what MDA has described as multiple breaches of contract by RGM says, " Could have made 20 lcoal feature films with that money, and generated jobs for people in the industry."

The apparent lack of proper corporate governance is not new to MDA. In 2007, MDA had handed out up to $50,000 each to four interactive digital media start-ups that were co-owned by mentors, despite the scheme's guideline specifically prohibiting start-ups owned by mentors to be ineligible for such grants.

An expert appointed by MDA to evaluate such grant application was also found to have a stake in of the start-ups, and was also a business partner of a mentor of nine other grant-receiving start-ups.

In 2009, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) rapped MDA for these lapses.[2]  The AGO also criticised the Media Development Authority of Singapore for failing  to collect an estimated S$9.89 million in revenue from joint projects with production companies, despite the projects being completed for some time. [3].

In 2010, MDA was taken to task by Public Accounts Committee for having the most number of lapses in the way they had managed their finances. In commenting that MDA's lapses "reflect poorly on the overall internal controls of the MDA". the Committee recommended that the Auditor-General's Office consider reviewing MDA's governance and controls in two to three years’ time, instead of the usual once in seven years.[4]


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