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RM10,000 a month to monitor Facebook ‘wall postings’

 | November 30, 2011

It took six months for the Tourism Ministry to provide a detailed breakdown of the RM1.8 million spent on six Facebook applications.

KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism Ministry paid data entry personnel “more than what journalists earned” in the country to monitor ‘wall posts’ messages on its six Facebook sites over eight months.

Revealing this in parliament, Rasah MP Anthony Loke said the ministry spent RM80,000 to manage the ‘wall posts’, to delete obscene posts, content control, and to give feedback on tourism campaigns and promotions to interested Facebook users.

The money was part of RM200,000 allocated to manage marginal functions on six Facebook applications for eight months.

“This is the expenses just to reply Facebook queries… just to do data entry for the ministry, one can earn more than journalists do in a month,” quipped Loke.

The ministry had spent a controversial RM1.8 million on six Facebook pages to promote Malaysia, an issue which was highlighted by Loke in June this year.

Almost six months after the issue was raised, Deputy Tourism Minister James Dawos Mamit provided a cost breakdown of the RM1.8 million to Loke last week.

According to Dawos,”RM80,000 was allocated for eight months for data management and monitoring where the person or persons answered to queries over the ministries’ campaigns and updated the database”.

Loke said that the ministry’s Facebook pages did not attract many users and hence such exorbitant costs were unjustified.

“You have seven or 13 comments (to attend to), there are only a few updates…its scandalous and the cost cannot be justified,” he said.

Ridiculous expenses

Disclosing further breakdowns of the RM1.8 million spent, Loke said RM600,000 was spent on applications such as flash programming, testing and debugging maintenance for the six Facebook campaigns.

Another RM360,000 was used to purchase advertisement on Facebook and Google for the duration of eight months.

He said the balance RM558,432 was spent on prizes for contests organized by the Facebook campaigns.

Loke also questioned the exorbitant allocation of funds for prizes saying that the ministry could have sourced for sponsors to safe cost.

“One of the prizes was a tour to the food places in Penang and a four days- three nights stay.

“If Ng Yen Yen (Tourism Minister) had spoken to the Penang Tourism Board, they could have sponsored the trip and the ministry could have saved on the cost,” he said.

Ng drew much flak when the issue was first highlighted as many detractors claimed that Facebook and its applications which are free, can be maintained at almost no cost and did not require millions spent on it.

However Ng stood her ground saying that the maintenance of these Facebook pages required maintenance which only professionals were capable of offering.


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