PUTRAJAYA: The board of directors of the Malaysia Totalisator Board had given approval to sponsor a trip to Turkey for Bukit Aman top brass back in 2017, says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Responding to criticisms that the Pakatan Harapan government had allowed the board to sponsor senior police officers' trip to Turkey, Lim said the approval was made before Pakatan came into power.
"Some people are accusing us of being religiously insensitive because the board had sponsored the trip. I would like to point out that board members had approved to sponsor it back in 2017," he said after attending the Customs Department Chinese New Year celebration on Thursday (Feb 14).
Malaysia Totalisator Board is an agency under the Finance Ministry which acts as a regulatory body to oversee racing and betting activities.
Lim said it was dangerous that some parties are playing the religious card on the issue.
He reiterated that despite being an agency under the Finance Ministry, the board need not seek its approval to sponsor programmes and activities.
He repeated that neither he nor the ministry was aware that the Malaysia Totalisator Board had sponsored this trip, adding he only knew about it through media reports.
Whistleblower site Sarawak Report reported that the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun and 17 other senior police officers went on a lavish trip to Turkey which cost over RM300,000.
Following the expose, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he had approved the trip sponsored by the Malaysia Totalisator Board.
He said the officers attended training to combat online gambling.