Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 20th November 2008 at 10.30 am: 

Will former Pampena Chairman Chor Chee Heong step forward to explain the RM50 million Pempena scandals as Chew Mei Fun claims they happen before her time or is the Pempena scandals a MCA mess? 

The new Executive Chairman of troubled Tourism Ministry subsidiary, Pempena Sdn. Bhd, Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun called a press conference yesterday but refused to answer questions about the RM50 million Pempena scandals of bad investments, criminal breach of trust and financial improprieties declaring:

“I will not answer on things that happened before my time. Now I just want to focus on revamping the company.”

Is nobody to be responsible for the scandalous RM54.4 million Pempena investments in 24 investee companies as at June 2008, where Pricewaterhouse Cooper audit has recommended the immediate closure of five companies resulting in instant loss of some RM20 million!

If Chew does not want to assume responsibility for what happened before her time, why didn’t she get the former Pampena Chairman, Datuk Chor Chee Heong, to appear together with her at the media conference yesterday so that questions about the propriety, accountability and integrity of the RM50 million Pampena scandals could be answered?

Or is the RM50 million Pampena scandals a MCA mess? If Chor is not prepared to answer and account for the RM50 million Pampena scandals, is he prepared to resign as Deputy Home Minister as Chew has pushed the whole buck of the RM50 million Pampena scandals to him?

The whole purpose of Chew’s press conference yesterday was to declare that she is not responsible for the RM50 million Pampena scandals as they happened before her time.

She was also very offended that I had mentioned that she was paid RM10,000 a month and provided with a car and driver, declaring that she was actually embarrassed that she was getting such a small remuneration as compared to Executive Chairman of other corporations.

Chew may think that she is entitled to be paid RM100,000 a month but she must realize that Pempena Sdn. Bhd, as a subsidiary of Tourism Ministry, is a government company and she is dealing not with MCA funds but with taxpayers’ money.

Since she has accepted appointment as the new Pempena Executive Chairman, she must accept responsibility to give full and proper accountability for the RM50 million Pampena scandals, even if they happened before her time under the chairmanship of Chor Chee Heung.

I am surprised that Chew has denied that Pampena has asked the Tourism Ministry for an injection of RM5 million to keep it afloat.

Is Chew totally unaware of this Pempena application, which I understand was submitted only last month, raising the question whether she is a hands-on or a hands-off Executive Chairman.

Can Azalina deny that she has received such an application from Pempena?

Chew has evaded the question at her press conference yesterday how those who had applied for research officers in the Tourism Minister’s office had instead been appointed as directors and general managers of Pempena, giving the lame reply: “It is up to the company to give them a job that we feel fits them. Is there anything wrong?”

There is nothing wrong if Pampena is a MCA company using MCA funds but it is a government company using taxpayers’ monies and therefore requires proper accountability.

Malaysians are entitled to know the full number, list and costs of the “political appointees” padded onto the Pampena payroll after the March 8 general election, but who are not doing any Pempena work as they answer directly to the Minister of Tourism.

What is the justification for increasing the monthly overhead costs of Pempena when it is already such a losing concern?

Finally, didn’t Chew begin her appointment in Pempena in mid-May but why was her appointment backdated to April 1, 2008?

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