Todt payment issue giving Malaysia bad name Print
Sunday, 28 June 2009 02:28

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The controversy over an alleged payment for Datuk Seri Jean Todt as the Malaysian Tourism ambassador is drawing bad press internationally, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

Todt, she said, was greatly distressed and disappointed over the accusations.

She said Todt, who was in Paris, had been bombarded by the European media wanting to get his side of the story.

Dr Ng has been in contact with Todt over the telephone and email since the allegations were brought up at the Dewan Rakyat by Gombak MP Azmin Ali.

"This (issue) is all over the world today because of media (and technology).

"Do not think that whatever that is happening in Kuala Lumpur does not have any impact? That is the damage (that has been caused)," she said.

"The world is facing a great tourism challenge and we are trying to succeed with our 'Malaysia My Second Home' programme.

"We are trying to bring in more tourists," she told reporters at a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre, yesterday.

Asked whether Todt demanded an apology from Azmin, Dr Ng replied: "He is a gentleman. He didn't insist on an apology but I extended my (personal) apology".

Asked whether she would demand an apology from him, Dr Ng said Azmin had already misled the Dewan Rakyat and the people.

"Please be a responsible MP. Do not embarrass Malaysia and taint the image of Malaysians," she said.

On Wednesday, Azmin had alleged during question time at the Dewan Rakyat that the cost of having Todt as an ambassador came up to RM593,400.

Dr Ng had immediately denied the allegations on the same day, saying that the budget was not for Todt's personal expenses.

On Azmin's other claim that Todt and his Malaysian fiancee Datuk Michelle Yeoh were given a piece of land in Terengganu, Dr Ng said the ministry had checked into the matter and Todt was never given any land.

She urged Azmin to reveal his source to back up his claims.

"Where did you get your information?

"Are you scared to let me know your source?" she said.


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