By Shannon Teoh
June 19, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Lim Kit Siang mocked today Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s defence of the “unquantifiable creativity” behind the tourism ministry’s RM1.8 million Facebook project.
The Ipoh Timur MP pointed out that a Facebook page protesting the project has already garnered three times the support of the Tourism Malaysia ~ Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia page.
“Chua is defending the indefensible. What creativity is Chua talking about?” said DAP’s parliamentary leader of the MCA president’s statement yesterday defending Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
The Curi-curi Wang Malaysia community page has raced to nearly 120,000 “likes” in just five days while the official Tourism Malaysia page is yet to hit 40,000 despite being set up in May.
Dr Ng was reported to have earned the ire of her Cabinet colleagues on Friday, who refused to accept her explanation for the cost of maintaining six Facebook pages over seven months.
Dr Chua defended his vice president yesterday, insisting that one could not put a price on creativity.
“Going by this impeccable logic, Malaysians must thank their lucky stars that they had not been charged RM18 million or RM180 million for six Facebook pages to promote tourism to Malaysia although Facebook pages are free,” said Lim sarcastically.
The debacle over the Tourism Ministry’s Facebook expenses began on Tuesday when Ng’s deputy, James Dawos Mamit, revealed in Parliament that RM1,758,432 had been spent developing six Facebook pages for the ministry.
He had said each of the six pages — Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia, Citrawarna 1Malaysia, Karnival Jualan Mega 1Malaysia, Festival Pelancongan Seni Kontemporari 1Malaysia, Kempen 1Malaysia Bersih and Fabulous Food 1Malaysia — cost RM293,072.
The announcement drew condemnation from the online community, sparking a spontaneous campaign that same evening which quickly saw tens of thousands condemning Dr Ng’s exorbitant spending.
Her ministry first entered the spotlight late last year when it was revealed in Parliament that she had spent more for her official trips abroad despite slashing the tourism promotional budget.
The Raub MP again came under fire after Tourism Malaysia’s former advertising agency alleged that the ministry had asked for bribes in exchange for a promotion contract.
Lim also questioned whether Dr Chua’s request for Dr Ng to show him the minutes of Friday’s Cabinet meeting was a violation of the Official Secrets Act as they were classified material.