Balkis went a-shopping around the worldPosted: April 28, 2008
This has been reported on the front page of the Sun newspaper.
Globe-trotting VIP Wives
R. Nadeswaran, Terence Fernandez
PETALING JAYA: While their husbands went on lawatan sambil belajar, the wives were not to be outdone. Shopping trips, overseas junkets and lavish functions have been the hallmark of activities of Balkis – Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor.
Nothing wrong with the junkets, except that their excesses were paid for by the state government and private donors, who contributed money in the belief that it was
going to good causes. Attempts to get an insight into its operations have come to naught – newly-appointed state executive councillors Teresa Kok and Elizabeth Wong who had gone to
the Balkis secretariat to seek information and collect files were refused entry. Staff had been
“instructed” not to allow access to the office.
While Balkis has done its bit for the less fortunate – its most visible contribution being the setting up of Kompleks Wawasan Balkis (KWB) its RM5 million secretariat which doubles as a women’s shelter in Shah Alam – some of its programmes raise the question if Balkis’ philanthropy is a façade for a group of VIPs to enjoy themselves at the expense of generous donors who included state government subsidiaries.
In the eight years that Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo has been mentri besar, his wife and Balkis president Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik (above) has led delegations to Europe, Hongkong and Australia. According to sources in the state government, these trips were listed as among Balkis’ annual activities but had nothing to do with charity.
Balkis’ accounts have never been made public and no one is sure if they too had suffered the same fate as other documents – shredded and destroyed after Barisan Nasional (BN)’s rule in Selangor ended on March 8. But the extravagance of Balkis has been laid bare by the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) which said that it gave RM218,719.60 for KWB’s opening ceremony.
It also revealed that 43,560 sq ft of land for the construction of KWB was given to Balkis at an undervalued RM250,000 – a contra deal to offset a loan between PKNS and the state government. Private donors included the Sunway Group and LBS Bina Sdn Bhd. Other state government subsidiaries which contributed to Balkis included Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad which gave RM268,862. According to an official at one of the subsidiaries, there were regular requests from Balkis for financial contributions.
Balkis has been in the news since last Friday when theSun front-paged a report that its previous executive committee headed by Zaharah had transferred Balkis’ RM9.9 million to Bakti – the federal Organisation of Wives of Ministers – three days after Selangor fell to the Opposition in the general election. The previous executive committee also tried to dissolve the association and set up a new body – Balkis-BN.
The newly-elected Pakatan Rakyat state government is demanding the return of the money, saying these actions were illegal. The Registrar of Societies has yet to approve Balkis’ dissolution and has asked for additional information from Zaharah’s administration.
Original article in PDF format found here.
So THAT’S what they’ve been up to.
Tan Sri Khalid has offered to settle the issue as long as they return the RM9.9 million to Balkis, and that Balkis will continue to function.
But Balkis’ ex-President, wife of Khir Toyo, Zaharah Kechikis refusing to budge. According to blogs by Kak Ton and Kak Nuraina, she’s claiming that she did everything according to the law. She’s also threatening to take legal action against anyone who makes baseless accusations.
I wonder how much more she can actually go before someone spills the beans, assuming there are any to spill.