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Thursday, March 26, 2009

> PSNB foot RM 338,000 bill for Balkis

More than RM338,000 was spent for a Bakti sporting event hosted by Balkis, the wives of Selangor elected representatives charity and welfare organisation, in August 2007, the Selangor State Assembly's Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) heard today.

 The amount included RM131,000 spent on sporting attire, Datin Khairiyah Abu Hassan, chief executive officer of the state-owned Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB), told Selcat which is investigating execesses by Balkis.

Selcat is chaired by Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Khim while its members are Bukit Antarabangsa state assemblyman Azmin Ali, Taman Medan assemblyman Haniza Talha, Ulu Kelang assemblyman Shaari Sungib, Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee, Dusun Tua assemblyman Ismail Sani (BN), and Permatang assemblyman Sulaiman Abdul Razak (BN).

"The sportswear purchased by PNSB were tracksuits for 400 people and 180 liaison officers and everyone got four pairs," Khairiyah who was continuing her testimony from yesterday, said.

She said the sportswear was originally provided by the Malaysian Sports Council (MSN) but had failed to meet the criteria set by Balkis.

"MSN should have supplied the sportswear but as they did not meet the Balkis specification, we were directed to buy new ones," she said.

Khairiyah said only three sports were organised for the games -- telematch, bowling and badminton.

"The total amount, RM338,000, looks like (it is for) a big sporting event but only telematches (were played). And if we look at other sporting events, the contingents have to prepare their own sportswear, while here, the organisers are supplying it," he said.

Teng commented that it was not the norm for organisers to provide the apparel for sporting events.

Khairiyah corrected Teng and said the amount was also for the staff who had helped in the three-day long games.

"They were for the drivers, the police and other staff," she said, adding that the purchases included packed meals. He then pointed out that in the programme given to them, no telematch was listed

This was countered by Khairiyah, who said that in her schedule, the telematches were listed for Aug 4.

"But our programme does not show this. All it shows on that date is a team-building exercise at Sunway Lagoon Theme Park," said Teng.

Khairiyah then added that over RM 30,000 was paid by PNSB for three pairs of batik wear for the Sultan of Selangor, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and the wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Jeanne Abdullah, before being asked to testify on a 2007 trip by the wife of former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo, Datin Zahrah Kechik to visit her son in Melbourne.

When asked about the trip, Khairiyah told the committee that she had received instructions directly from Zahrah for PNSB to foot the bill for the trip and to accompany her on the three day visit.

Over RM14, 000 was spent to purchase return business class and economy class tickets sometime in December 2007, she said, adding that the trip was not an official visit.

Khairiyah was then asked by Teng about a Balkis charity visit to Cambodia in 2002, where USD11,000 was listed as being set aside for "contingency" expenses, while the other expenses, including the donations made were listed in Ringgit Malaysia.

Khairiyah replied that the other expenses were also paid in US Dollars, but were not converted in the accounts.

When grilled about a gift of a watch worth almost RM160,000 by PNSB to Khir Toyo, who was then chairman of PNSB, she said it was merely a "token of appreciation" which had been decided unanimously by the board.

"A token is something small, given as a small mark of appreciation. A certificate is a token," quipped Teng, who asked why the gift was given discreetly, when it was intended as a show of appreciation.

In response, Khairiyah said that Khir had declined the gift, and it had been sold for double the original price.

However, Teng pointed out that the accounts showed that the watch was sold for the same price it was bought.

The inquiry continues tomorrow - theSun.