KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (pix) today dismissed an allegation by Umno Youth that he had allowed a gaming company to sponsor senior police officers’ working visit to Istanbul.
He said the allegation by Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki was untrue and baseless.
“According to him (Asyraf), I am not at all sensitive to Islamic laws and the people’s sentiments. I wish to emphasise that I did not know at all about the sponsorship of the working visit of the senior police officers by the Malaysia Totalisator Board because it was decided by its board of directors,” he said in a statement.
The Malaysia Totalisator Board is a statutory body established under the Racing (Totalisator Board) Act 1961.
Lim said it was not necessary for any decision by the board of directors of the Malaysia Totalisator Board to be referred to the Finance Minister and, as such, he was never informed of the trip by the senior police officers to Turkey, and he never approved it as the finance minister.
He said the board of directors of the Malaysia Totalisator Board approved the application for the working visit on Nov 23, 2017, at a cost of RM184,648 before he was appointed the finance minister and when Asyraf was still the deputy minister (religious affairs) in the Prime Minister’s Department in the previous government led by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.
“It was not the first time that the board of directors of the Malaysia Totalisator Board had approved a working visit by police officers. Prior to this study tour, three trips by senior police officers abroad were approved by the board of directors of the Malaysia Totalisator Board, from June 12 to 17, 2012, at a cost of RM69,763 (approved by the board of directors on March 27, 2012); June 10 to 14, 2014 at a cost of RM95,040 (approved by the board of directors on March 20, 2013); and from May 1 to 6, 2014 at a cost of RM128,400 (approved by the board of directors on Feb 11, 2014),” he said.
“This clearly proves that all the trips were approved during the administration of the Barisan Nasional federal government and when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was still the prime minister of Malaysia,” he said.
Following the government decision to be no longer be directly involved in the gaming operations in the country, the gaming operations of the Malaysia Totalisator Board were privatised to Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd (Da Mai Cai) on March 14, 1991.
Through this privatisation move, the Malaysia Totalisator Board currently earns a 5% royalty income from the net profit of the Da Ma Cai forecast numbers draws, averaging RM9 million annually; an annual fee of RM10 million from agents and RM6 million annually from telephone betting royalty.
In addition, the Malaysia Totalisator Board also derived other income, namely interest from fixed deposits and rental receipts.
Thus, the Malaysia Totalisator Board never receives any financial allocation from the government for its operations.
Visit programmes to strengthen enforcement are part of the mandate set for the Malaysia Totalisator Board to improve enforcement activities related to the horse racing industry.
The approval for funding of the programme can only be executed at the level of the board of directors as set out under Sections 4 and 20 of the Racing (Totalisator Board) Act 1961. — Bernama