Archive for September 4th, 2007

Over RM100 million spent by Federal govt for 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations


The Federal Government has budgetted over RM100 million for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.

This was finally admitted by the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek this evening during the winding-up of the two-day policy debate on the 2007 Supplementary estimates.

At first Awang said the original estimates for the 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations under the Prime Minister’s Department was RM74 million, and with the additional supplementary vote of RM18.25 million requested, making up a total of RM93 million. The government spent RM38 million for the Merdeka anniversary in 2006 and RM35 million in 2005.

He said the expenditure of RM93 million for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations were proper and justified once in 50 years and in creating a sense of national unity for the occasion, which was priceless.

Seeking clarification, I asked firstly, whether these are the “final” and “absolute” figures or whether there would be other expenditures for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations which would come before Parliament in future supplementary estimates.

Secondly, I pointed out that in the 2007 supplementary estimates there were at least two other items of specific expenditures for the 50th Merdeka anniversry celebrations in other minisries, viz RM7.2 million for all parliamentary constituencies for the 50th Merdeka anniversary under the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage and RM8 million under the Ministry of Youth and Sports for Youth Day programme in connection with the 50th Merdeka anniversary.

I asked for the ‘grand total” of all expenditures for all Ministries in connection with the 50th Merdeka annivesary celebrations and not just the allocations for the Prime Minsiter’s Department.

In his reply, Awang admitted that there were other items of expenditures outside the Prime Minister’s Department like the RM7.2 million figure (he did not touch on the RM8 million item) which would bring the total to RM100 million. He said he could not give a categorical answer that there would not be other figures but as far as he knew these were the substantial sums, and if there were other items they would not be major ones.

He said with 26 million population, the RM100 million tag worked out to about RM3 or RM4 per person once in 50 years, symbolising the peace, harmony and welfare enjoyed by the people. Read the rest of this entry »


How much government budgetted for 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations?

Believe it or not, this question raised Barisan Nasional ire in Parliament yesterday.

When yesterday’s sitting started and Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek presented the 2007 supplementary operating and development estimates totalling RM11.9 billion and explaining the details of the supplementary requests to the original 2007 estimates of RM159 billion, I stood up to ask for clarification.

I pointed out that under the Prime Minister’s Department, there was a request for an additional RM18.2 million expenditures for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations. However, unlike many other items where supplementary estimates were being requested, it was not possible to find out from the Treasury memorandum tabled in Parliament what were the original estimates which had been budgeted for the Golden Jubilee Merdeka celebrations.

I asked Awang what was the original estimates to which an additional RM18.2 million allocation was being requested.

Who would have thought that such a simple-and-straightforward question nearly brought down the House, with the Deputy Minister stubbornly refusing to do so and even threatening to refuse to give way to me to seek clarifications when delivering his winding-up speech the next day, with Barisan Nasional MPs creating a din and demanding that I should cease and desist and stop posing such a question as if I had committed something sacrilegious in Parliament.

I rejected Awang’s argument that he would give the answer during his reply as such information should be at his finger tips unless there were reasons why he was not prepared to be forthcoming about the original estimates budgetted by the government for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.

I rebutted Awang’s argument that I was already debating the supplementary estimates in posing the question, as what I wanted was the most basic information so that an informed debate on the supplementary estimates could be conducted by MPs from both sides of the House.

In the event, the brute majority of the Barisan Nasional in Parliament prevailed and Awang did not enlighten Parliament as to what were the original estimates budgetted for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations and the BN MPs were very happy about their ignorance! Read the rest of this entry »