Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 13th November 2008 at 11 am: 

Reminder to Azalina to table the PriceWaterhouse report on the various financial scandals of Tourism Ministry’s subsidiary, Pempena Sdn Bhd in Parliament as it is more than a week since her promise to do so

This is to remind the Tourism Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman that it is more than a week since her promise in Parliament to table the PriceWaterhouse report on the various financial scandals of Tourism Ministry’s subsidiary, Pempena Sdn. Bhd.

When replying to me in Parliament on Monday, 3rd November on the 2009 Budget, Azalina said that PriceWaterhouse report into the financial scandals of Pempena would only be ready two days later on Wednesday, and I specifically reminded her at the time to keep her undertaking to present the PriceWaterhouse report in Parliament.

In fact, when she was further questioned on the PriceWaterhouse report, the Deputy Speaker, Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who was in the chair at the time, came to her rescue, urging MPs to “bersabar tunggu hari Rabu”…”hingga laporan selesai”.,

In my speech on the 2009 budget on October 15, I had referred to the Oct. 13, 2008 expose by the Sun in the report “Over the limit…PSD ALLOWS MINISTER ONLY EIGHT STAFF, BUT 20 ON TOURISM MINISTRY’S PAYROLL”, calling in Parliament for a full explanation for the serious allegation that the tourism minister’s office “has excess baggage”, being overstaffed as “the appointment of some 20 staff breaches the Public Services Department (PSD)’s regulations limiting the appointments to only eight” and that “it defies a Treasury circular on cost-cutting and austerity”.

The Tourism Minister had in fact three special officers, five political officers, one research officer, six information technology (IT) officers and given support staff. As only the PSD can approve the new appointments, the guidelines were circumvented by getting Tourism Ministry subsidiary Pempena Sdn. Bhd and its affiliates Malaysian Travel Business Travel Sdn. Bhd and SD Corp Communication Sdn. Bhd to pay their salary.

One such appointment is Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, who is the executive director of Pempena and paid RM10,000 and is provided with a car and driver.

I also raised the financial scandals in the various Tourism Ministry projects including the RM30 million for Malaysia Kitchen and RM10 for E-Tourism Portal. Another scandal is the Pempena Teksi Service (Pets) which has lost millions of ringgit.

In her reply, Azalina admitted that all was not well with the ministry’s various projects and subiidaries especially, Pempena resulting in serious allegations of graft and criminal breach of trust against senior officials in Pempena.

She said that this was why PriceWaterhouse had been asked to conduct an audit report.

Azalina has asked MPs to be patient until the PriceWaterhouse report is officially handed to her last Wednesday. When is she going to keep her promise to table the PriceWaterhouse report into Pempena financial scandals in Parliament?

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor