PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng on Wednesday (Feb 13) said he was unaware that an agency under his ministry has sponsored a high-ranking police delegation's lavish trip to Turkey earlier this month.
"The sponsorship was approved by the Malaysia Totalisator Board and not by the Finance Ministry," he said.
The board - a statutory agency under Mr Lim's ministry - acts as a regulatory body to oversee racing and betting activities.
Mr Lim said he would check if his ministry has the authority to get the agency to seek the ministry's go-ahead before approving future sponsorships.
"Current procedure says that such matters only need the approval of the board of directors and need not be referred to the Finance Ministry," he said.
"The board does not get a sen from (the ministry) but from a number-forecasting company."
He said this after the UK-based Sarawak Report website alleged on Tuesday that Malaysia's police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun and 17 other police officers had headed to Istanbul via Doha on Feb 7.
The report implied that the officers were on a lavish trip there, staying at a four-star hotel.
It also put up a rough estimate of the trip, claiming that the flights would come up to RM254,218 (S$84,709.01) while the hotel rooms would cost RM58,225, without taking meals and other expenses into account.
Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Tuesday that he had approved the trip for Tan Sri Fuzi and several senior police officers to attend training on ways to combat online gambling.
"Any officer or police delegation seeking to go out of the country needs prior authorisation and in this case, I was informed and have given my consent for the trip," he said, although he added that he was unaware of the size of the group.
Asked if the trip was meant as a way to thank Mr Fuzi who is set to retire soon, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said there was no such thing.