Muhyiddin administration under investigation for RM700 mil media buys

Bulk of RM500 million spending was under eighth prime minister’s watch during emergency period in early 2021

(Scoop) – An embezzlement and excessive spending probe into RM700 million spent on publicity and media buys by two previous administrations is focused on Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s time as prime minister.

This is because of the absence of paperwork and documentation involved in the disbursement of about RM500 million for media and publicity contracts.

A police report was lodged on December 30 by an officer of Umno communications director Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, with regards to a statement by the Finance Ministry that RM700 million was spent by two administrations for media and publicity between 2020 and 2021.

Investigators, Scoop learns, are looking into whether the state of emergency that came into effect on January 12, 2021 was abused to circumvent procurement processes and governance procedures.

Muhyiddin was prime minister from February 29, 2020 to August 16, 2021.

He was succeeded by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob who led the country from August 21, 2021 to November 24, 2022.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took over the reins on November 24, 2022, with the formation of the current unity government.

Anwar, who is also finance minister, had on November 7 of last year revealed that Muhyiddin’s administration had spent RM500 million on media and publicity.

“This is excessive and a breach of processes and governance procedures,” Anwar told the Dewan Rakyat then.

According to sources, while Ismail Sabri’s administration spent in excess of RM100 million, there was sufficient documentation.

In fact, the Finance Ministry reported that the current administration of Anwar had spent a portion of the balance amounting to RM56.9 million which was brought forward from Ismail Sabri’s administration.

The expenses were incurred to promote the respective administrations’ achievements and efforts through all media platforms, including social and print media, billboards, as well as television and radio.

“Auditors are able to account for the spending in the current and previous administrations but the problem lies with Muhyiddin’s administration as there is a lack of paper trail,” said the source.

The police report lodged at the Setapak police station on December 30 was in reference to a news article by Utusan Malaysia dated November 11 stating that the amount spent was to publicise the agenda of former governments from 2020 to 2022.

“The amount spent is huge – I feel it is not appropriate and demand that there be details of where this RM700 million of people’s money was spent by the previous governments,” according to the police report sighted by Scoop.

Wangsa Maju police chief Ashari Abu Samah said the case has been referred to the Finance Ministry.

Recently, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said the people have the right to know about the “significant” expenditure, and whether it was recorded properly.