RM1.9m for ‘technical’ visits

By Reena Raj (The Malay Mail)

AFTER a gruelling seven days, the public inquiry into possible misuse of funds by Wives of Selangor Elected Representatives Charity Organisation (Balkis) ended yesterday, leaving those who
attended reeling from the revelations. 

For more than a week, details of money spent on exotic trips, overseas souvenir- shopping expeditions and gifts for guests attending glitzy functions, kept members of the Selangor State Assembly’s Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) riveted
as the figures continued to rise.

The inquiry is the first to be conducted by a State Legislative Assembly in the country. Other States are widely expected to follow suit following the conclusion of the Balkis inquiry.

Yesterday, PNSB chief executive officer Datin Khairiyah Abu Hassan dropped a bombshell when
she further revealed how much the State-owned conglomerate had forked out for former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo and his family’s expenses during the overseas technical visits.

She also drew hoots of laughter when she explained the reasons for the trips.

1 ) Jakarta and Jogjakarta, Indonesia: April 20-24, 2003 Total cost: RM201, 452
Dr Khir, his wife, daughter and maid also went on the trip. The purpose was for delegates to study
Indonesia’s batik production, which was supposed to lead to the opening of a batik factory in Selangor.

Cost of airfare for Dr Khir, his wife, daughter and maid:  RM37,695

Miscellaneous costs incurred by the delegates RM34,404

Spent on two-day rental of a limousine/ Mercedes Benz in Jakarta: RM5,800

Paid for two-day rental of a limousine/ Mercedes Benz in Jogjakarta: RM5,000

2) Morocco and Paris: Dec 17- 24, 2004 (inclusive of four-day transit in Dubai) Total cost: RM900,000

The trip, attended by Dr Khir, his wife, children and maid as well as PNSB delegates, was to study Islamic architecture, which could be adopted in Selangor.

The group, which had a reconnaissance trip beforehand, also visited Paris Disneyland to generate ideas for a theme park in Bagan Lalang, Sepang.

They bought tickets to enter the theme park and did not meet any Disneyland representatives.

Cost of the recce team trip: RM366,000

Cost of official trip: RM416,000
Airfare: RM366,000
Ground arrangements RM420,000
City travel: RM70,000
Other expenses RM43,000

3) Honolulu, Hawaii and Orlando, Florida: Dec 23 to Jan 1, 2008
Total cost: RM646,841
Additional cash taken: RM101,000
A technical study on the Bagan Lalang theme park was also the pivotal reason for the trip. The group, comprising Dr Khir, his family and PNSB delegates, bought tickets to DisneyWorld and again did not meet any Disneyland representatives.

A tour guide instead took them around. Cost of Dr Khir’s luxury suite: RM110,000

Cost of six single superior rooms for the delegates: RM171,000

Cost of one twin-sharing room RM24,800

Khairiyah claimed that on the trips, Dr Khir and his wife flew only first class.

The itinerary of the US trip also included visits to Miami Beach, island tours, dinner cruises and a Honolulu city tour.

Dr Khir and his wife, supposed to have been key witnesses, failed to turn up for any of the inquiry proceedings.

Dr Khir would be referred to the Committee of Privileges while Zaharah could be prosecuted under Section 5 of the Contempt of the House Act 2008. The inquiry’s findings will be presented at the next sitting of the Selangor State Assembly in July.

The Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission is expected to investigate possible criminal breach of trust (CBT) once Selcat concludes its findings and police conclude their investigations.