Tourism Ministry in spotlight over exhorbitant official trips

By Rahmah Ghazali, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism Ministry came under the spotlight today when it was revealed that its minister Dr Ng Yen Yen and her predecessor Azalina Othman spent more on official trips.

The ministry did this by cutting its promotional budget between 2008 and 2010.

In a written reply to Tian Chua (PKR-Batu), Ng said that the ministry spent RM1.2 million on official trips in 2008 when it was under Azalina.

In 2009, the cost ballooned to RM1.6 million and when Ng took over the portfolio in April the same year, it increased to RM1.7 million.

While that is a 40% increase over the three years, the promotional expenditure, however, dipped by a whopping 70% in the same period.

According to figures provided by the ministry, the promotional expenditure in 2008  was  RM320 million for both local and international promotional activities.

However, this was reduced to RM301 million in 2009 and decreased significantly to RM99.6 million up till July 2010.
Tian said in a statement that Ng went on more official trips than Azlina.

“In 2008, Azalina went on official trips six times but Ng has thus far gone abroad 15 times this year.

“Is she really doing her job to promote Malaysian tourism or is she promoting international tourism? She should be called a ‘touring’ minister instead of tourism minister,” he said.

RM52,000 per person per day

Citing an example, Tian said that Azalina had gone on official trips to Bangkok and Chiang Mai unaccompanied by any private or government-linked agencies.
Despite this, he said, the cost for the trips were exhorbitant.

“During a three-day visit, she spent RM73,000 on two persons. This means each of them spent RM12,000 a day over the period.

“The same goes for her official trip to Russia where she spent RM753,000 for five ministry officials. This means on average, each of them spent RM52,000 per day,” said Tian.