Chong slammed for ‘media spectacle’ over foreign trips budget

chong slammed for ‘media spectacle’ over foreign trips budget

Sarawak’s public health, housing and local government deputy minister Michael Tiang (left) accused state opposition leader Chong Chieng Jen of using the media for his ‘political stunts’.

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak’s public health, housing and local government deputy minister Michael Tiang today blasted Chong Chieng Jen for going to the media to ask why the ministry needed to spend more than RM2.7 million on overseas working trips this year.

Tiang questioned Chong’s intention in raising the ministry’s overseas study trip expenses, contained in the supplementary budget, through a press release on social media rather than seeking clarification during the recent Sarawak legislative assembly sitting.

He said Chong, who is the state opposition leader, did not raise any such question during the Sarawak assembly’s eight-day sitting but “chose to make a media spectacle” through the press release after the sitting ended.

“It is blatantly clear that Chong is only interested in using the media for his political stunts,” Tiang said in a statement.

He said if Chong was truly concerned about the ministry’s expenses, he would have given notice to the house so that the minister could address his concern over the supplementary budget in the state assembly.

Last Friday, Chong said he noticed a 1,700% increase in the budget for overseas conferences and study visits by the ministry in the 2024 First Supplementary Estimates of Ordinary Expenditure.

“An additional sum of RM2,781,750 (was) approved to cater to overseas conferences and study visits by the public health, housing and local government ministry,” his statement read.

“The initial allocation under the 2024 budget for this programme was only RM161,400, but it is now only five months into 2024 (and) an additional amount of RM2,781,750 is required.”

Chong, the Padungan assemblyman, said Sarawak public health, housing and local government minister Dr Sim Kui Hian should provide details of the overseas conferences and study visits, including the number of people who attended, locations and dates.

He also asked for details on the individuals funded by the allocated amount and whether Sim’s spouse was among them.

Previously, the Sarawak legislative assembly unanimously passed the supplementary supply bill, allowing an additional expenditure of RM267,928,353.

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