PUTRAJAYA, Feb 27 — Transport Minister Anthony Loke today took MCA to task after the party questioned why his wife was allowed to sit in during a recent official meeting with Chinese government officials in China.
In a press conference here today, Loke said that his wife was invited by the Chinese minister to also sit in the meeting.
“As I said, the Chinese minister invited her to sit there. So is there a problem with MCA?
“If the Chinese minister allowed her to sit in there, what is the problem with MCA?” Loke asked.
Malaysiakini had earlier cited MCA’s international communication and diplomacy bureau head Tee Ching Seng, who had pointed out a photograph of the meeting in China, in which Loke’s wife was seated in.
The report said that the photograph was posted on Loke’s Facebook page yesterday.
“What official position does the minister’s wife hold (which warranted her) attending the official meeting between governments?” Malaysiakini quoted Tee saying.
Last year, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said that ministers travelling overseas for short work trips of less than seven days are no longer allowed to bring their spouses along adding that the new ruling is one of Pakatan Harapan’s move to reduce expenditures.
In a statement later, Loke’s special functions officer Chung Yi Fan said that the trip attended by Loke and his wife was a seven-day working visit aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation between Malaysia and China, in the transportation sector.
“Today, MCA has made a baseless accusation on the inclusion of the spouse of Loke, in the Malaysian delegation to China.
“Let me set the record straight by stating the fact that Mrs Loke was indeed a member of the Malaysian delegation, in accordance to diplomatic norms and government circular,” Chung added.
Chung said that Loke’s wife had sat in the meeting with Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng in her official capacity, and therefore should not be questioned.
“Had any members of the Malaysian delegation been absent from official programmes during a working visit to attend other informal excursions, it will be a legitimate cause for further scrutiny. Otherwise, as what MCA did, was no more than cheap publicity,” Chung added.