PETALING JAYA: The police must come clean over its privately funded official trip to Turkey, which was allegedly to learn about initiatives to combat illegal online gambling, says the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet).
The lavish trip, which was alleged by whistleblower site Sarawak Report to cost over RM300,000, has raised public suspicion on the motive of the sponsorship as it involved the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun and 17 other senior police officers, said Cenbet co-president Gan Ping Sieu (pic)
He said it is the duty of the police to fight online gambling, and the authorities should not need to be “incentivised” to do so from a company or a statutory board that stands to gain when the illegal activity is curbed.
“This goes against the good governance which we promote. This is a matter of transparency and accountability.
“If enforcement by government agencies is influenced by big corporations, then who is to stand up for victims of petty theft and house break-ins?” he said in a statement Friday (Feb 15).
The public has a right to know why such a sponsorship was given and the police must address questions on any conflict of interest over the matter, said Gan.
“There are also questions about why a study trip would require 18 senior members of the force and the supposed high costs involved,” he added.
According to the Sarawak Report, the rough estimated cost of the trip would be RM254,218 for flights and RM58,225 for rooms at a four-star hotel, without taking meals and expenses into account.
Following the expose, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he had approved the trip sponsored by the Malaysia Totalisator Board, adding that the officers attended training to combat online gambling.
However, on Thursday (Feb 14), Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the board of directors of the Malaysian Totalisator Board had been given approval to sponsor the trip to Turkey back in 2017, during the Barisan Nasional administration.
Gan, who is Kluang MCA chairman, said that the contradictory remarks by the two ministers have “muddled” the entire issue.
He added that the government should regulate non-charitable and permitted corporate social responsibility sponsorships by the private sector, statutory board or individuals.
“This would help allay public suspicion of collusion amongst the private sector of statutory boards, government servants and government agencies,” he said.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong made a sarcastic jab at the contradictory statements made by Muhyiddin and Lim.
“Who should we listen to? Who is right?
““#MenteriSalingBercanggah (contradictory ministers) #TakdeWhatsappGroupKe? (Don’t you have a WhatsApp group),” he said.
The Malaysia Totalisator Board is an agency under the Finance Minister that acts as a regulatory body to oversee racing and betting activities.