DAP lawmakers today questioned why the Malaysian entourage to Dubai is made up exclusively of staffers and aides from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's office.
Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari asked what was the point in sending a 17-member delegation which included Muhyiddin's wife, a private secretary, a press secretary, two political secretaries, four special officers, one aide-de-camp and six bodyguards.
"Is it cost-cutting or extravagance to send 17 people to Dubai for a five-day golf holiday with a little work squeezed in?" asked Zairil in a statement.
Citing documents leaked on a whistleblower website, Zairil said the sheer size of the delegation was questionable.
"Why is the entire delegation made up exclusively of people from Muhyiddin's own office with no officials from the Education Ministry?"
Sim said the delegation is being put up at a five-star hotel at public expense.
He said the leaked itinerary revealed on a website showed that Muhyiddin's official duties do not take up more than a few hours, but he was set to stay there for five days.
"In fact, most of Muhyiddin's time in Dubai is filled with games at the golf course, informal dinners and meetings with plenty of private programmes," Zairil said.
Both MPs demanded that Putrajaya give an account of how much Muhyiddin's entire trip, including the use of special aircraft, has cost taxpayers.
"The public should also be told how Muhyiddin's programme will benefit Malaysians, in terms of education or commerce," Zairil said.
Sim (pic, left) repeated his call to the Auditor General to investigate Muhyiddin's trip, along with other recent trips, to ensure public funds were not being misused.
Yesterday, Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, announced the introduction of cost-cutting measures for the public sector, one of which prohibits excessive spending during official ceremonies.
The measures were announced following public concerns over inflation caused by Putrajaya's subsidy rationalisation exercise last year, which saw hikes in petrol prices and electricity tariffs.
"Unfortunately, Ali must have forgotten to send a memo to Cabinet," Zairil said, referring to Muhyiddin's Dubai trip.
"Is this in line with Ali's cost-cutting measures to save public money?" Sim asked.
Sim and Zairil gave a press conference in Parliament yesterday, questioning Muhyiddin's "luxury" five-day work trip to the United Arab Emirates, saying that it only amounted to three hours of work.
Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, is in the Middle East for the Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (Getex) 2014 and to officiate the Education Malaysia Pavilion. – April 10, 2014.