KOTA KINABALU: A senior Parti Warisan Sabah leader said the public should be appalled that several government officers including political secretaries and private secretaries to ministers choose to travel business class instead of focusing on two businessmen who just happened to be Warisan leaders.
Commenting on a news report on photos taken by Warisan Youth chief Mohd Azis Jamman showing himself and Warisan vice-president Peter Anthony sitting in Malindo Air’s business class en route to Kuala Lumpur, the senior leader said there were many reasons why the duo were flying business class.
Although he had not talked to the duo, the senior leader, who declined to be named, said it was unfair for the public to judge the men without knowing the reasons behind their travel arrangements.
“First of all, it is already public knowledge that these men can afford the air fares. Anthony, for example, I know has tonnes of flying air-miles. So it is obvious he can afford to redeem the air-miles and/or to purchase such airfares.
“Secondly, considering the travelling arrangements were made at the last minute on a Sunday, it is possible there were no more economy seats available.
“The report in the national daily failed to state that two party leaders, vice- president Junz Wong and Francis Au, were sitting in the economy class, as shown in Azis’s Facebook posting,” he told FMT.
More importantly, he said questions should be directed at the government officers, political secretaries and minister’s press secretaries who are known to travel on the same flight as their ministers in business class as well.
These officers, he said, were travelling to Kuala Lumpur and back for work and the source bets that the airfares are charged to the respective ministries, which are financed with the rakyat’s money.
Ultimately, this means these officers’ travel expenses are borne by the tax-paying public unless they can show that they paid for their flights from their own pocket, like the two personalities highlighted by the national news portal.
“Instead of being mad at a couple of self-paying businessmen, they should question why the ‘people’s taxes’ have to pay for these officers to travel business class,” he said.
The senior leader also expressed his regret for the news report trying to link the party’s recent crowd-funding campaign and the “supposedly” travel lifestyle of both Azis and Anthony.
The campaign managed to raise more than RM100,000 in just two days and it was meant to specifically assist party president Shafie Apdal’s bail money following his detention by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
“The campaign was meant to be a voluntary donation, which means nobody was compelled or forced to give.
“It was all done voluntarily as were the collections of RM2k garnered for the Kota Belud flood victims during the crowd-funding done while awaiting the court remand hearing of Shafie Apdal.
“I thank the donors for their sincere generosity.
“On the other hand, we are all obliged to pay taxes and it should be infuriating to know our money is used to pay business class travels by government officers, political secretaries, political private secretaries (if indeed such fares are paid by the ministry),” he said.