|Jimadie Shah Othman | Dec 17, 08 3:32pm|
|A public inquiry will be held into the contributions from six government-linked companies (GLCs) to the defunct Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Isteri-isteri Selangor (Balkis), a charity organisation comprising the wives of the previous menteri besar and BN state assemblypersons.
According to the state’s select committee on competency, accountability and transparency, initial investigations have revealed that there are “several cases which require further investigations.”
Committee member and Taman Medan assemblyperson Haniza Mohd Talha said there have been large contributions made to Balkis every month.
The contribution from one particular GLC was as much as RM1 million a year since the formation of Balkis in 1985, she added.
Balkis courted controversy when it was reported that the funds belonging to the organisation had been transferred to another account when Selangor fell into the hands of the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, in the March 8 polls.
Its former president Zaharah Kechik, who is the wife of former menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, had reportedly called for an emergency meeting on March 11 to dissolve the organisation and close the account a day later.
The funds, amounting to RM9.9 million, were said to have been channeled to a different account before the money was transferred to the Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Tenaga Isteri-isteri Menteri (Bakti), an organisation helmed by the prime minister’s wife and comprising wives of ministers and deputy ministers.
GLC officers to be called in
In view of this, she said officers from all the six GLCs in Selangor will be called in to testify in order to facilitate the public inquiry.
According to Haniza, the committee is in the midst of preparing the questions for the probe and the inquiry is expected to be held early next year, or latest by the middle of 2009.
Haniza also revealed that the initial investigation took almost eight months because the committee was not permitted to view the Balkis account.
“So we were forced to examine (each) GLC account throughout Selangor,” added the Wanita PKR vice-chief.
The Societies Act stipulates that only office bearers of the organisation are permitted to access the Balkis account, she lamented.
However, Hasniza said the committee has no power to prosecute in the event the inquiry unearths any wrongdoing.
“If there is sufficient evidence, the matter will be referred to the Anti-Corruption Agency and the police,” she added.
Apart from Balkis, the committee is also investigating the expenditure of BN representatives in the state amounting to RM26.6 million for the first two months of this year.
When Pakatan Rakyat took over, only RM2.9 million remained from the RM500,000 per annum allocation for each representative.
In the first state assembly session in May, Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim promised to look into the excessive spending.
He also reportedly said that the previous state assembly speaker, who is not an elected representative, had spent RM600,000.
The select committee, headed by current speaker Teng Chang Khim, was formed this year to monitor the competency, accountability and transparency of the state government’s administration.
Apart from Haniza, the committee comprises five other state representatives – Mohamed Azmin Ali (PKR-Bukit Antarabangsa), Saari Sungib (PAS-Hulu Kelang), Edward Lee Poh Lin (DAP-Bukit Gasing), Sulaiman Abdul Razak (BN-Permatang) and Ismail Sani (BN-Dusun Tua).