KUALA LUMPUR: Official trips that include too many leisure or entertainment activities in their itinerary should be scrapped, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.
It would be better if those officials do not go abroad, as there are better things to do at home, the Prime Minister said when asked to comment on official trips abroad.
This included the aborted trip to Egypt by the Selangor Public Accounts Committee, which had a belly dancing show on its itinerary.
“If they want to go overseas and watch belly dancing, it is better they do not go. There are lots of better things for them to do here,” he told reporters after launching the United Nation’s country report on the Millennium Development Goals for Malaysia here yesterday.
Abdullah expressed surprise that a belly dancing show had been included in the aborted trip.
“Do they not have anything else to do?”
The proposed eight-day trip, which involved four Selangor PAC members and seven others, became controversial when it was revealed that the itinerary included a belly-dancing show and a cruise on the Nile.
These two items were later removed from the itinerary because of criticisms.
The other activities included a visit to the Malaysian embassy in Cairo and a meeting with Malaysian students and a visit to the Egyptian parliament,
There were also days set aside for sightseeing and shopping.
The trip was cancelled 10 hours before the scheduled departure time because few of the delegates wanted to go.
The other trip that drew criticism was a tour of Dubai and the United States by 23 Malacca state officials, including Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Khalil Yaakob and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
Ali’s wife and three daughters also joined the delegation but he said he paid their costs from his own pocket.
The RM1mil trip included a meeting with government officials during a stopover in Hawaii and the rest of the time was allegedly used by the participants to go sightseeing and playing golf.
On another matter, Abdullah lashed out at diesel smugglers, describing their activities as “sickening”.
“We offer Malaysians fuel at a good price and what do they do?
“They smuggle it and make money,” he said.
These people do not appreciate what the Government is trying to do by subsidising fuel, he said, when asked to comment about fuel subsidies.
“The actions of these people have resulted in a shortage of diesel and then, they turn around and blame the Government for not providing enough supply,” said the Prime Minister.
Abdullah admitted that fuel subsidies would be a major concern to his government but said he needed time to decide on the appropriate level to set.
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