Damansara Utama assemblyperson Yeo Bee Yin has insisted on seeing the accounts of government-funded early childhood education programme, Permata, despite being told off.
She also denied being only interested in scrutinising Permata’s accounts, and said she wanted to get a full picture of how Permata is run.
“As a matter of fact, the funding received by Permata is from taxpayer’s monies, hence Permata is obliged to show its accounts, and be accountable to the people.”
Permata is headed by the prime minister’s wife Rosmah Mansor who is its patron, while Rizal Mansor is her aide. It was allocated RM30.1 million in the government’s 2015 budget.
Yeo added that Rizal seemed to have forgotten that Permata doesn’t belong to any individual, it is a government agency.
“Rizal said that I am only interested in scrutinising the books. This is not true. I would like to get the full picture of how Permata is run, and financial management is an important part of assessing the performance of an agency,” she said in a statement today.
By analogy, she said a Swatch watch is a decent watch that can be purchased at around RM300 each.
It would still be a decent watch if it were priced at RM2,000, she said, but then it would no longer be good value for money.
“The RM2,000 should be given to those who can buy the most Swatch watches with it. In the same manner, in assessing Permata’s performance, we need to ask how many children benefit from this, the overall impact to the families, the long term strategy, and how monies allocated to Permata are spent to achieve those goals.
“I hope this analogy will help Rizal to understand the value-for-money concept, which probably is too foreign for him now,” she said.
Previously, as Permata came under fire from members of public, Yeoh came to its defence by arguing that investment in early childhood care is important, and should not be brushed off easily.
When Yeo said she wanted to scrutinise Permata’s accounts however, Rizal said the invitation was only for her to visit the childcare centres and to educate herself about Permata.
He added that she should also look to her party DAP’s backyard first, in particular the controversial RM6.34 billion Penang Tunnel and road projects, the Taman Manggis project, and the fact that Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has been charged with corruption.
To this, Yeo said Penang’s Public Accounts Committee is due to table a report on Penang Tunnel during the state assembly’s November sitting, while documents on Taman Manggis can be obtained through Penang’s Freedom of Information Enactment (FOI).
“But FOI is probably another foreign concept to him because the federal government works in secrecy – Permata’s resistance to open its books although it is using tons of public funds every year, is a perfect example.
“Now, let's get back to the issue of Permata, I would like to reiterate that the only way for Permata to clear its name is through public disclosure of its accounts. Will Rosmah and Rizal take up the challenge or will they chicken out and cancel the invitation?” she queried.