Press group: Money from '1Malaysia' group went to charity

Modified 3 Oct 2018, 8:54 am

The Penang Chinese Newspaper Reporters and Photographers Association (Pewaju) has clarified that they did not pocket the RM50,000 donation from the mysterious 1Malaysia-Penang Welfare Club in 2013.

The group said their office bearers had objected to the receipt of the money, and instead donated it to two charitable causes in 2015.

Pewaju said this in response to comments made by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in an interview with Malaysiakini published yesterday.

Lim had urged the Chinese media to condemn press groups for receiving money from the 1Malaysia-Penang Welfare Club, alluding that it was most likely funded with money misappropriated from 1MDB.

"Even now, it's not too late. Condemn them for receiving 1MDB money.

"You talk about MCA and Umno receiving 1MDB money, what about your own journalists' associations?" he said.

In the interview, Lim also pointed out that one of these groups "returned" the money due to public pressure. It was later established that he was referring to Pewaju channelling the funds to charity two years after receiving it.

On April 9, 2013, 1Malaysia-Penang Welfare Club had hosted a dinner for 5,000 people and handed out cheques totalling RM2.2 million to 103 groups.

The recipients included Pewaju, Penang Press Club and the Journalists Union of North Malaya, who each received RM50,000.

Among those present at the event were Komtar BN coordinator Loh Chye Teik, 1Malaysia-Penang Welfare Club president Geh Choh Hun, and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.

At the time, Geh refused to explain where the RM2.2 million came from. Low was also spotted in a "1Malaysia" T-shirt.

Low is currently wanted by the Malaysian authorities over his role in the alleged misappropriation of billions of ringgit from 1MDB.

The club, which was deregistered in 2014, was also behind two concerts in Penang that year.

The first was a concert by South Korea pop singer Psy o Feb 11, followed by a charity concert involving a group of international stars such as Swizz Beats and Busta Rhymes on April 20, which coincided with the start of the 2013 general election campaign.

Pewaju said they appreciated Lim, the former Penang chief minister, for raising this matter again and thanked him for caring for the Chinese press in Penang.

"Pewaju has always been frank and open on this matter. We are not afraid of being scrutinised."

"Most Chinese media practitioners in Penang respect Lim and we treat him professionally. We hope that the finance minister will visit Penang more frequently," it said.

Lim is MP for Bagan and the Penang legislative assemblyperson for Air Putih.

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