RM 1.4 mil spent on fine dining

Ah, Azalina Othman Said, Tourism Minister of Malaysia has done it again. But she did this, when she was the Youth and Sports Minister.

Okay, so we’re digging into a bit of history here. But if that history’s good for learning something, then it’s worth digging. An article in The Sun reveals all (or almost all, but it’s dreadful enough..):

Song and Dance while others suffer
by R. Nadeswaran

ON Monday, the sports fraternity, police officers and government officials pored over details on the route the Olympic Torch will take when it arrives on our shores. Foremost on their minds was what to expect from protesters – sympathisers of Tibet and members of the controversial and much-maligned Falungong sect which is banned in China.

If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t worry much about these groups. I would rather be frightened of Malaysians who have managed to get a copy of the annual report of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM), which discloses some sordid details.

Malaysians would rather protest against how their money has been mismanaged than bother about what’s going on in Tibet.

According to its website, the foundation is devoted to the empowerment of women through sports and fitness. The foundation, the website says, has pursued this goal from 1995 along with “our humble quest to enlighten women on the significance of sports and fitness as a national agenda”.

It also says (reproduced verbatim): The chairperson of WSFFM, Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman Said, is a leader with a distinction, inspiring and is truly sincere in making a difference in women’s life. It’s indeed an honor for the Foundation to have the first woman Minister of Youth and Sports as our Chairperson. Dato’ Seri Azalina has always advocated unity and women empowerment through sports. She has motivated and enabled girls and women to reach greater heights. The realizations of her vision and strategic plans have already begun and been proven.

But looking at the income and expenditure, one wonders whether these goals have been achieved. Let’s look at the income: The National Sports Council gave a grant of RM9.72 million and another RM1.5 million came from the Youth and Sports Ministry. There were two smaller amounts – RM200,000 from the Olivia Newton John concert and RM110,000 from Datuk Dina Rizal’s Sports Unite Sdn Bhd.

No one will complain about that. But when the page is turned and the expenditure is listed out, one cannot but be aghast over how the money had been used. Before even one sen is spent, the question that should be foremost on the minds of the people who are holding public money in trust should be: How will doing this help the sportswomen?

For purposes of easy reading and understanding of the issues involved, here’s where the bulk of the money went:

• Grants RM1.18 million

Meals and Accommodation RM2.1 million

Media and Advertising RM932,000

Post and Production RM710,000

Printing and Stationery RM710,000

Rental of Equipment RM865,400

Volunteers’ Allowances RM242,000

Wages RM117,700

Entertainment RM1.4 million

Travelling and Transportation RM858,000

But before anyone argues that this foundation is a non-governmental organisation and the media has no right to question how it spends money, let it be said that this foundation received more than RM11 million in taxpayers’ funds. Every right-thinking Malaysian must ensure that it is spent prudently and for the benefit of the rakyat and not on self-seeking or syiok sendiri projects.

If meals, accommodation and entertainment accounted for 30% of the expenditure, then something is wrong with the system and no one cared for a basic principle called prudence.

Full article here.

Read also Susan Loone‘s take on it.

*******

Seriously, what was Azalina Othman Said doing with entertainment expenses that went THAT high? Fine dining costs THAT much? It’s RM3.5 million, for expenses used for meals, accomodation and entertainment combined. That would make it about RM10,000 spent daily.

RM10,000?

Yikes! I didn’t even realise it was THAT much until I used the calculator. And it’s freaking pissing me off. I’m hardly this vocal, but this is RIDICULOUS! What kind of entertainment are we talking about here? What kind of fine dining? What kind of 7-star hotel accomodation?

This was entertainment expenses for an organisation dedicated to making the lives and livelihood of women athletes better. To improve their training facilities. To ensure their good health. To promote support.

I’m starting to run out of words here. I’m left speechless.

If this is the way Azalina Othman Said squanders tax-payers’ money, then I really don’t even want to start pondering on how she’s going to spend the money that’s allocated for the Tourism Ministry, of which she is now supposedly leading.

If she can use RM1.4 million on entertainment alone for the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM), I dare not think of the amount of money that she could use to entertain (herself, presumably), for the Tourism Ministry, which would be getting even more funds from the government. And because tourism IS about entertainment anyway, she’ll probably get away with squandering every last cent.

***UPDATE: WSFFM response to the Sun article

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