GEORGE TOWN: Focus on telling Penangites how local councils paid to enter an awards programme held by a questionable UK outfit, an Umno representative told political secretary to the Penang chief minister, Wong Hon Wai, today.
This was after a local government official here claimed that nearly RM40,000 was paid in entry fees to the awards organiser, but that “no ratepayers” money was used.
Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhammad Farid Saad said as a Penang representative, his duty was to get an explanation from the DAP-led state government.
“This issue was raised by Chinese dailies. We are scrutinising (the local councils) to find the truth as it involved ratepayers’ money, which ultimately came from Penangites.
“… as of the federal agencies and public universities receiving awards, I suggest Wong ask the questions directly to the parties involved.
“Wong need not ask me, they need to ask the newspapers that gave coverage to this issue. As a wakil rakyat, I represent Penangites’ (interests) and I need to get an explanation from the state government,” Farid said in a statement.
He was referring to Wong’s statement earlier today asking Farid and Zainal to train their guns on federal agencies which had also received awards from the Europe Business Assembly (EBA).
Wong said Penang’s local councils had already apologised and explained the issue, and that the Umno leaders’ attacks were not necessary.
Guang Ming Daily was the first to highlight that the Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai Municipal Council had received awards from EBA.
Penang Umno chief Zainal Abidin Osman had said despite the mayor’s admission that “fees were paid”, it was clear that the local councils had taken money from their own funds to get into the awards programme.
Based on local news reports, past winners of EBA’s awards include three Malaysian public universities: Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Perlis.
According to UK daily The Times, EBA advertises itself as an Oxford institution to sell “made-up prizes” such as “The International Socrates Award” and “The Queen Victoria Commemorative Award” for prices reaching £9,300 (RM52,000).
The report claimed the EBA outfit was run by Ukrainian businessmen, targeting areas where people had the financial power to buy such accolades.