KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Minister of International Trade and Industry (Miti) Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali today denied that he was accompanied by his family while on a trade mission to Europe in October.

During his ministerial winding-up speech, several members from Pakatan Harapan (PH) led by Jelutong MP, RSN Rayer, had asked if Azmin had brought his family along for the official trip and if this had been paid for by the ministry, and if they had travelled first-class.

Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun, however, disallowed Rayer from posing questions on the matter, saying that the subject was not related to Budget 2022.

This prompted dissent from several of Rayer’s PH colleagues who justified his query as being an issue related to the national Budget.

“I merely sought clarification on the delegation’s trip to London. Minister, it was even reported in the news. Is it true that you brought your family along and did the ministry pay?” Rayer asked.

Bangi MP and former deputy minister of Miti, Ong Kian Ming, then stood up and explained the rationale for the question to Azhar, after which the latter left the reply at Azmin’s discretion.

“Every ministry has a budget for overseas trips and so do their missions. So what Jelutong asked is whether the minister booked first-class tickets, and the price, for COP26 (2021 Climate Change Conference). I know that London to Singapore, and back again to Malaysia, the price is indeed high. So give the minister a chance to answer,” Ong said.

Azmin later told the Dewan Rakyat that he would take Rayer’s question, before denying that his family had been with him.

“I understand that Jelutong’s action is more towards pivoting the focus from bigger issues. However, I do not have any issue with answering the matter raised.

“All expenditure for Miti’s trade mission complied with the rules and financial procedures. This is because, before a trade mission is approved, it must be tabled in Cabinet and everything — the list of delegation members, allocation amount, expenditures, destination — all these were detailed and approved by the Cabinet, according to the rules and financial requirements. I deny Jelutong’s accusation,” Azmin said.

Azmin left for his trade mission in October, scheduled between October 13 and 21, which also covered France and the United Kingdom

National news agency Bernama reported that the senior minister was accompanied by senior Miti officials, which aimed to demonstrate the Malaysian government’s business-friendly policies and capabilities in strategic areas, such as sustainability, high-end manufacturing and Industry 4.0.