Dr Sim challenged to disclose full text of aid memo

Kong (left) wants Dr Sim to disclose the memo in its entirety.

By Chew Lip Song

LOCAL Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian has been challenged to reveal the entirety of a controversial Sarawak government circular on food aid that has spawned allegations of political discrimination.

Michael Kong, the special assistant to Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen alleged that Dr Sim had been selective in disclosing the content of the memo from the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development.

The memo dated Apr 3 was sent to all Resident Offices.

“In his press statement on Apr 28, Dr Sim Kui Hian chose to do a selective reading of the said
memo by sidestepping the issue that his Service Centre was nominated by the Ministry to manage the food aid allocation for five constituencies,” Kong said in a statement today.

He alleged that Dr Sim, who is also the Batu Kawah assemblyman, had diverted the issue by saying that the funds were not allocated to him but to the district disaster management committees. Kong, from the DAP, described this as “only half-truth”.

According to Kong, the memo clearly indicated that Dr Sim’s service centre was entrusted to decide how to spend RM1 million food aid for the needy in five state constituencies. Besides Dr Sim’s own Batu Kawah, the centre was also responsible for Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang and Kota Sentosa – all seats held by the opposition.

“Dr Sim had conveniently failed to reveal the part of the Ministry‚Äôs memo stating that his service centre has the discretion to decide on the purchase of all the food items, and thereafter forward the bill to JBB for payment, or pay first then claim reimbursement from JBB,” Kong said.

He further added that the policy of allowing Dr Sim or his service centre to decide on the purchase and distribution of food items where the latter is not the representative had also raised many questions.

The distribution of aid to the needy has become a political hot potato in the state over allegations of political discrimination. The opposition parties had claimed that the needy in their constituencies had been receiving aid late, if at all, due to political favouritism. The Sarawak government has denied this.

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