Pre-GE13 Youth Day celebration cost balloons to RM68m

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The cost of the event was totally unjustifiable and the act of hiding the actual cost from the public was unethical, says Steven Sim.

Najib at the 'Millions of Youth Gathering 2012' - Photograph: Mohd Yusni Ariffin/NST
Najib at the ‘Millions of Youth Gathering 2012’ – Photograph: Mohd Yusni Ariffin/NST

In June, I highlighted how the federal government spent RM55m to organise the 2012 pre-general election Youth Day celebration in Putrajaya.

After I revealed the cost, many were furious how the government could spend so much money just for a Youth Day programme.

I counted that if RM50,000 is needed to pay the bills for one engineering or law student in a private college, RM55m can be used to fund more than 1,000 young Malaysians to complete their varsity education for free (and this is the cost in private colleges!). Our country is struggling with providing enough scholarships to excellent students every year, so why the enormous amount of money spent just on a Youth Day celebration?

But, that was in June.

This week, after reading through the Auditor-General’s report, I discovered, to my utter surprise, that the Youth and Sports Ministry actually hid another RM12.6m paid for the same Youth Day celebration. They did this by channelling the money to certain youth organisations which then used it for the Youth Day programme.

The Auditor-General remarked that the Ministry’s action caused the total spending reported to be inaccurate.

Thus, the total amount of the pre-GE13 Youth Day celebration where the PM “campaigned” to the youth gathered, has now increased from RM55m to RM67.6m, almost RM68m!

This is atrocious to say the least. First the cost is totally unjustifiable, and second, the act of hiding the actual cost from the public is unethical.

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I have issued a public statement requesting Khairy Jamaluddin, the newly minted Youth and Sports Minister to give a thorough explanation on this matter. If he does not do so by next week, I will mull further action.

Steven Sim is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.

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