KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today he was unaware of the sponsorship of 16 high-ranking police officers’ trip to Istanbul as it was handled and approved by the directors of the Totalisator Board, a unit under the Finance Ministry.
According to Lim, the finance minister has no authority over the matter, and similar trips were approved several times under the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
“Since any decision by the directors of the Totalisator Board is not required to be referred to the Finance Ministry, the detail of the sponsorship was never informed or approved by me as the finance minister.
“This is what I can say in response to Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki who had accused me of being insensitive towards Islam and against public sentiment. His allegations are completely baseless and is not true,” he said.
On Wednesday, Lim had said that none of the funding for the Totalisator Board came from the government’s coffers, and that its source of income was from Da Ma Cai, a numbers forecast company.
In response Asyraf said the move was insensitive towards Islam and public sentiments, training his guns at the Pakatan Harapan administration.
But Lim revealed yesterday that it was approved back in 2017. He explained today that the directors of the Totalisator Board had approved the RM184,864 Turkey trip on November 23, 2017.
“This is before I was appointed as the finance minister; in fact, at that time, Asyraf was a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department during the previous administration under Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“This is also not the first time police went on such trip, similar trips was organised three times in 2013 and 2014. All the trips were approved by the previous Barisan Nasional administration,” he said.
The trip trips had cost between RM70,000 and RM128,400.
Sarawak Report (SR) on February 10 reported that at least 16 high-ranking officers travelled to Istanbul for a work trip and the online news portal estimated that RM312,441 could have been spent on just business class flights and hotels for the group.
According to SR, among those who accompanied the IGP were Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Najmuddin, Narcotics Criminal Investigations Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh and several other top brass.