The Negeri Sembilan opposition leader says greetings could have been sent out for free.
Winding up a three-day session of the state assembly, he said the text messages were sent out under the Info Belia programme and the cost was borne by Yayasan Negeri Sembilan.
“The state has never given a sen to the Yayasan,” he said. “It generates its own income from various investments. In fact Yayasan Negeri Sembilan contributes some funds to the state government.”
He was responding to state opposition leader Loke Siew Fook, who yesterday quoted a written reply from the government saying it had spent RM299,743.05 to send out 2,893,074 SMS greetings to the public on festive occasions.
Loke said the money was wasted because text messages could be sent for free, such as through websites like WhatsApp.
“Why spend so much of the people’s money for something that is of such low priority?” he said.
“What is the objective of the practice and what is the benefit to the people?”
Villagers in limbo
Loke also ticked off the state government for breaking a promise to settlers of a village in Rahang whose homes were demolished to make way for a road project.
He said the state had told the folk in Kampung Abok that they would be provided with town houses priced at between RM40,000 and RM50,000.
“When the government wanted to start the Middle Ring Road project, these people were asked to move out from the settlement area,” he said.
“They were given a token of RM5,000 and were promised that the town houses would be built on the spaces remaining after the completion of the project and that the price would be low enough for them.”
The affected people were supposed to receive the keys to the new houses from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak during his visit to the area last February. But this did not happen. According to Loke, they had found out two days earlier that the price would be around RM72,000.
“They refused to sign the pertinent documents because the houses were too expensive.”
Loke, who is the state assemblyman for Lobak as well as MP for Rasah, said he had learnt that both the federal and state governments had provided a grant for the project because this was a “special-case project not meant for profit making”.
“So I wonder why the state government cannot sell at the cheaper price it promised.”
Mohamad told the assembly today that his administration was aware of the plight of the villagers and would “try to fix a price that is affordable” to them.
He said the state executive council would discuss the issue next week.