Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 18th November 2008 at 3pm:
Police report to be lodged over the “looting of people’s money carried by a few officials using tourism as a front” for the guilty in the stable of Tourism Ministry and Pempena financial scandals to face the full brunt of the law
I thank the Tourism Minister, Datuk Azalina
Othman for giving me a copy of the Summary Report of the
PricewaterhouseCooper review of Tourism Ministry’s subsidiary, Pempena
Group of Companies but I will write to her for a copy of the Final
Report, as the implicit promise she made in Parliament during her
winding-up of the 2009 Budget debate on Nov. 3 was for a full and
unqualified disclosure of the PricewaterhouseCooper report.
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.
In my speech on October 15, I also spoke on the financial scandals in the various Tourism Ministry projects including the RM30 million for Malaysia Kitchen, the RM10 million for E-Tourism Portal, and the multi-million ringgit Pempena Teksi Service (Pets) scandal. These belonged to the first category of Pampena scandals as they first happened before Azalina became Tourism Minister although the various financial improprieties continue under Azalina’s term.
When Azalina replied in Parliament on Nov. 3, I returned to the two categories of Pampena scandals. I mentioned for instance that the “padding” of Azalina’s retinue of “excessive staff” in breach of PSD regulations by getting Pempena to employ them has created the ridiculous situation where most of these “excessive” staff were on the 36th floor of PWTC (Azalina’s Ministerial office) and not in the offices of Pempena and its other affiliate companies like SD Corporation.
There was no satisfactory reply from Azalina
for padding Tourism Ministry’s Pempena Group of Companies with
highly-paid “political operatives” like Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, after
she was defeated in the Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary election.
Azalina should public the full list of the 20 appointees she brought into the Tourism Ministry, whether appointed directly by the Ministry or indirectly by the various Tourism Ministry subsidiary or affiliate companies, and to justify such expenditures when the Tourism Ministry and the Pempena Group of Companies are already suffering tens of millions of ringgit of losses from a string of financial improprieties and scandals.
Azalina should also explain whether it is true that although her retinue of “excessive” ministerial staff were inserted and absorbed into the various Pempena Group of Companies in mid-May this year, the appointments were backdated to April 1, 2008.
PricewaterhouseCooper summary report on “High Level Business Review of Pempena Group of Companies”
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should schedule an early inquiry into the financial scandals of the Tourism Ministry’s Pempena Group of Companies, making full use of the PricewaterhouseCooper and the Tourism Ministry’s interal audit reports.
The PricewaterhouseCooper summary report is a
shocking report of the incompetence, ineptitude, irresponsibility and
even criminal breach of trust prevalent in GLCs.
In its “high-level financial performance review” of the 24 Pempena Investee companies, PwhC found that 6 Investee Companies do not any financial information while three Investee Companies have partial financial information.
Heads must roll for such incompetence and ineptitude.
However, it would appear that it is not just incompetence and ineptitude but crimes of criminal breach of trust and even corruption are in play in the can of worms in the stable of financial scandals of the Tourism Ministry’s Pempena Group of Companies, as revealed by the internal audit report.
This has been reported by the country’s
investigative journalist par excellence , Citizen Nades, R. Nadeswaran,
in his latest expose “Let them rot in jail” in The Sun yesterday:
But more shocking are the claims that minutes of meetings of the board of directors of Pempena had been changed by hidden hands. The internal audit confirms this by saying: "The amendments of the minutes are a serious offence as it involves the appointment of contractors without going through the proper process. No action was taken against those responsible for changing the minutes although it was brought to the attention of the management."
Tomorrow, I will lodge a police report for the full brunt of the law to be applied to what Nadeswarn has described as “the looting the people’s money carried by a few officials using tourism as a front” for the guilty in the stable of Tourism Ministry and Pempena financial scandals to be brought to justice.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor