Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Monday, 24th November 2008: 

Three more questions on the RM50 million Pempena Group of Companies scandals which Azalina should answer in Parliament since non-functioning Pempena Executive Chairman Chew Mei Fun has refused to accept accountability 

Yesterday, I posed three questions on the RM50 million Pempena Group of Companies scandals for the Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman to answer in Parliament this week during the 2008 Budget committee stage debate on her Ministry since the non-functioning Pempena Executive Chairman Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun has clamped up and refused to accept accountability.

Today, I am posing another three questions, giving her adequate notice to prepare for a full and adequate accounting in Parliament to show that as Minister for Tourism, she is fully aware of her responsibilities to live up to the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance although there are “Little Napoleons” in the Pempena Group of Companies who behave as if public funds are their private property which they need not account to anyone.

These additional three questions are:

Question No. 4 – Did she as Tourism Minister receive a request dated 15th October 2008 made jointly by the Pempena Executive Chairman Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun and the Pempena Chief Executive Officer Datuk Idrus Mohd for a RM5 million injection to keep Pempena afloat, although Chew had publicly denied that there was any such application. What is the Tourism Ministry’s position on the latest appeal by Pampena for an annual RM5 million life-line capital injection for the next two years to ensure Pempena’s continuous viability?

Question No. 5 – Two weeks ago, Azalina pledged from London that “there would be no cover-up of the goings-on in Pempena” and that those who had “cheated the government in any way” would be “severely dealt with”.

Let Azalina inform Parliament how many people implicated in the RM50 million Pempena scandals had actions taken against them, whether disciplinary action or the institution of criminal or civil proceedings.

In particular, why no action had been taken against the Pempena official responsible for grave criminal offence of tampering and falsification of minutes of meetings of the Pempena Board of Directors, involving matters like the appointment of contractors. This serious offence took place under two former Pempena Chairman, Datuk Kee Phaik Chin and Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung.

No action was taken against such a grave criminal offence even in the past three months after this was confirmed by the internal audit submitted to the new Pempena executive chairman, Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun more than three months ago. Can both Kee and Chor throw light on this serious crime during their chairmanship of Pempena?

Question No. 6 – Azalina had in London (reported by the New Straits Times 12th November 2008) had expressed shock and sadness that “so much money had been invested in Pempena but the companies that promised profits did not deliver”, asking where all the RM11 million invested in the taxi company, Pempena Executive Taxi (PETS), went to as the company has even failed to pay the hire purchase loan for the taxi instalments.

She also cited the financial woes of the various projects under the Malaysian Kitchen programme.

However the review into these selected Pempana companies conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Capital Sdn. Bh(PwhC) specifically excluded “any investigative audit or forensics work” but merely “a high-level business review”.

Who was responsible for the decision to specifically exclude PwhC from its terms of reference any investigative audit or forensics work to uncover fraud, irregularities and improprieties in the Pempena group of Companies and was this part of a “cover-up” to perpetuate the culture of impunity in the bureaucracy?

As the Pempena executive chairmd PwhC from any investigative audit or forensics work, Azalina should tell all in Parliament.

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