ADO claims nothing wrong in using state funds for political parties

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SHAH ALAM, Sept 11 — An Assistant District Officer today admitted that he took only a minute to rubber stamp applications for state funds amounting to millions of ringgit made by Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers at the Gombak District Council ahead of last year’s general elections.

Tahir Bujang, who is currently serving in the Sepang District Office, told the Special Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat)  hearing that what the money was used for was not his concern.

Other district officers have testified that applications for funds are usually approved within 14 days, but the process was expedited in the run-up to general elections, when more staff and resources were allocated for the purpose .

However Tahir amused the Selcat panel when he revealed that he could process any surge in applications without increasing his staff strength.

According Tahir, who was testifying on day four of the public inquiry into how state allocations were being used by lawmakers in the previous and current administration, the funds meant for small projects at state constituencies were considered “contributions” from the mentri besar’s budget.

He added that there was nothing extraordinary with BN lawmakers using their entire annual allocation amounting to RM500,000 just before the March general election.

This raised the ire of Selcat chairman Teng Chang Khim who told Tahir he needed to go back to National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN) and lectured him on good governance and financial administration.

“The funds are not good will contributions by the mentri besar but taxpayers’ money, which had been budget and approved by the Selangor legislative assembly, to be spent over the course of one year,” said Teng.

The state watchdog also grilled Tahir and Gombak District Officer Huzaini Samsi over why state funds was used to pay for BN organised activities and for rental of an UMNO service centre in the district.

While Huzaini admitted this should not have happened, Tahir said guidelines issued did not prohibit state lawmakers from channelling state funds to political parties.

He said they could spend the funds on any programmes so long as it was used in their constituencies.

However, when it was pointed out he had also approved a donation to Universiti Malaya, which is in the Federal Territory, Tahir said the money was meant for students from Gombak who were studying there.

Temperatures were further raised when Tahir agreed to a sarcastic suggestion from Teng that funds could also be donated to students from Gombak who are studying at University in London, in Russia or anywhere else in the world.

Tahir received another tongue lashing from Teng who said his answers were illogical.

Meanwhile Huzaini also revealed that RM10 million was allocated to each of the nine districts in Selangor in 2007 for small projects, in addition to the RM500,000 annual allocation for the same purpose, for BN lawmakers.

The projects and contractors were determined by the state government and the role of the District Office was to ensure the money was spent before the end of that year.

He added this was the first time such funds were allocated and agreed with the suggestion that it was part of BN’s campaign effort ahead of the general elections.

The public inquiry resumes on Monday.-MalaysianInsider