Yen Yen ‘spent RM3m on Pata conference’
The DAP alleges that the Tourism Minister had overspent in organising the event early this year.KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen has been accused of spending more than RM3 million in organising a tourism conference early this year.
The DAP today charged that Ng “lavishly” overspent the taxpayers’ money in organising the 2012 Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) conference held here in April.
This is yet another accusation of extravagance against the MCA minister amid concerns of escalating public debt, which stood at a record high of 7.4% of GDP in 2009.
DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke claimed that official documents showed the amount used in the event far exceeded the budget of RM1.7 million approved by the Cabinet as a result of alleged excessive spending.
The total amount spent for the 2012 Pata conference was RM3.403 million. According to the minutes of a Tourism Ministry meeting, the balance of the amount was to be taken from the budget surplus of the 2010 conference.
Loke, who is Rasah MP, said this was already a breach in financial procedures.
“She had already presented the paper to the Cabinet and only RM1.7 million was approved. So did she mislead the Cabinet?” he asked while speaking to reporters at the party’s headquarters here.
Ng’s reputation as tourism minister is mired in controversies of similar nature.
Just last year, the MCA vice-president was accused of extravagance in her travel expenses in the millions and not far after, she caused a national uproar when it was revealed that more than a RM1 million of taxpayers’ money was used to set up a Facebook account for her ministry’s agency Tourism Malaysia.
Ng was subsequently hauled before the Cabinet to explain on the allegation although she escaped unscathed after taking painstaking efforts to deny the accusation.
Her ministry’s lavish spending had prompted opposition leaders to call Ng by the moniker “Tourist Minister”.
Loke alleged for this year’s Pata conference the same spending pattern was exhibited by Ng as shown in the project’s official financial breakdown paper.
Some of the alleged excessive expenses highlighted were spending a whopping RM15,600 for officers’ “logistics” that went unexplained, RM14,580 on pre-paid cards and food for staff and a staggering RM20,000 for a banner.
The amount spent for the Pata welcoming dinner excluding the conference alone amounted to RM447,000, while Ng’s suite and rooms for her staff at the five-star Royale Chulan Hotel cost RM20,000.
Loke said he recognises the importance of tourism for the country’s income, but the Ng’s spending was exorbitant especially at a time of fiscal constraint.
“And this is only one conference. Imagine the kind of spending [the government conducts] when we have international conferences almost on a monthly basis,” he said.
Loke said he will be waiting for Ng to reply before he makes more exposé on the matter.