PAC cites Youth Ministry for ‘financial misconduct’ over RM1.6m K-pop concert

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin admitted that his ministry had to foot the bill for the RM1.6m Korean pop acts. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin admitted that his ministry had to foot the bill for the RM1.6m Korean pop acts. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found the Youth and Sports Ministry guilty of “financial misconduct” for footing the staggering RM1.6 million K-pop concert bill in 2012 and has recommended punitive action against those responsible.

The PAC’s report on the 2012 National Youth Day celebration also confirmed that the National Sports Council had not made any payment for the three Korean pop acts, disputing former Youth Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s claim that corporate sponsors had channelled RM20 million through the National Sports Council for the event.

“PAC recommends that the government take punitive action against the Youth and Sports Ministry’s controlling officer (‘pegawai pengawal’) and the relevant parties for failing to ensure that the MBM’s (Malaysian Youth Council) payments for the 2012 National Youth Day were done based on proper financial procedures,” said the PAC report that was sighted by The Malay Mail Online today.

“The payment for the K-pop groups were done by the Malaysian Youth Council through funds by the Youth and Sports Ministry for the 2012 National Youth Day.

“Besides that, it was found that MBM did not prepare a complete report on HBN (National Youth Day) until the audit was finished,” the report added, referring to the youth NGO.

Last year, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin admitted that his ministry had to foot the bill for the Korean pop acts after the Auditor-General’s 2012 report revealed as much when it was released in October.

“About the K-pop concert during the Youth Day 2012 celebration that received public attention—it is true this concert was funded by KBS,” Khairy had said in a statement on his Facebook page, referring to his ministry by its Malay initials, at the time.

However, he defended his ministry’s initial claim that the concert was sponsored, saying it had received an offer from a private entity at that time but the sponsorship later fell through.

As a result, the ministry was forced to pick up the tab, he said.

The national audit report had also revealed other financial irregularities within his ministry, including duplication of claims for several projects that were paid for by the MBM.

Khairy, who was appointed to head the Youth and Sports Ministry for the first time after the May 5 general election, pledged transparency with government funds for future projects.

The PAC report also noted that based on the National Sports Council’s 2012 audited financial statement, the funds allocated for the National Youth Day was RM1.22 million.

This contradicts the RM2.3 million figure that Shabery had previously given to the PAC.

“The government’s financial rules must be followed in government programmes, especially since there is a low sense of accountability among NGOs,” said the report.

“For example, the NGO’s cash repayments to KBS officers is a serious issue that needs to be looked at as it shows improper payment. The role of the controlling officer in managing the ministry funds must be tightened,” it added.

The PAC also said that although the ministry may face practical problems with issuing cash payments to officers, such a practice was open to abuse if there was no audit trail.

The PAC further recommended that more specific outcomes be detailed for future events, after the Youth and Sports Ministry said that the K-pop artistes had been brought in to attract young people.

“There was also a contradiction between KBS’ statement and the Institute for Youth Research Malaysia’s (IPPBM) actual research on the amount spent by visitors,” said the report, noting that the amount mentioned to the PAC was RM322 million, compared to IPPBM’s RM143.65 million figure.

*A previous version of this column contained an error citing Shahidan instead of Shabery. It has since been corrected.

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