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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Penang goes Balkis' way


R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez

PETALING JAYA (April 28, 2008): Penang has joined the ranks of Selangor – transferring money from the wives’ association for “safekeeping” with – Bakti, the federal Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

Although the amount is small compared to the RM9.9 million which was transferred by the Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor (Balkis), its Penang equivalent – Bunga Tanjung – could only spare RM350,000. But it’s the principle involved.

In an immediate response, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he is shocked by the turn of events and asked for the relevant documents, adding that the state government is seeking legal advice.

“This is a chaitable organisation and not a Barisan Nasional (BN) organisation or a sendirian berhad. I want Bakti to return the money as soon as possible plus interests. After all, it is in an interest-earning fixed deposit account,” he told theSun.

The minutes of a Bakti council meeting, a copy of which was obtained by theSun, among others, says: "With the formation of Opposition State Governments in Penang and Selangor, action has been taken to dissolve the associations to prevent them from being taken over as the constitution would allow for the wife of the chief minister to become the Yang di-Pertua of the association. They are now in the midst of registering a new association although keeping the same name but limiting membership to wives of BN leaders.

The minutes go on to say that Bakti had been approached by Bunga Tanjung and Balkis to assist them to receive and manage their funds for their welfare activities in the interim period.

According to the minutes, Bakti, will hold these monies which can be utilised for welfare activities in Penang and Selangor accordingly. After the formation of the new associations, Bakti will transfer these funds to the respective bodies.

However, another portion of the minutes says: "Pending the formation of the new associations, the monies transferred to Bakti will be disbursed to the respective associations but in accordance with Bakti’s constitution for welfare programmes in Penang and Selangor.

The minutes also state that “these matters have been discussed and cleared with Dato’ Helilah Yusof, Bakti’s legal adviser”.

A three-page enclosure dated April 7 ended with the initials “HY”.

The enclosure, among others, states: Pending the formation of a new society that will be a successor to the now dissolved Balkis, the following is agreed to:
> A letter of undertaking will be executed to provide a framework of assistance between Bakti on one part and the remaining three office-bearers of Balkis (being the Trustees);

> While the establishment of a new society is still pending there arises an urgent project which relates to the upkeep and maintenance of a hostel for youths who are at the age of 17 and below. These are youths who face various forms of social problems. The hostel is still being actively operated and hence there arises an exigency of a situation where some expenditure requires to be disbursed and in particular certain amounts are already due to be paid or overdue;

> It is considered that the aforementioned hostel falls into the category of scheme that is suitable for adoption by Bakti and its project pendidikan as a project khas. Upon adoption of such a project, all related expenses towards the project could be financed from the fund itself by Bakti.
The enclosure concludes: "It is also the understanding that is to be incorporated in the above-mentioned letter of understanding that the fund will be duly returned to the new society that is to succeed Balkis once it is formally constituted."

Updated: 10:09AM Tue, 29 Apr 2008


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