PROMISES made when heading other ministries sometimes come back to haunt ministers.
Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said found this out the hard way yesterday when government and opposition backbenchers lambasted her over a promise made when she was the youth and sports minister.
Datuk Anifah Aman (BN-Kimanis) gave Azalina an earful over her promise to build a mini-stadium in every parliamentary constituency.
He said to date, nothing had come out of the promise in her earlier portfolio.
Anifah said he was sceptical about Azalina’s statement that a homestay programme would be set up in every constituency as she had failed to fulfil her promise on the mini-stadiums.
“How can we then believe you when you say you will set up a homestay in every parliamentary constituency?”
He said it appeared as if Azalina was making empty promises.
In reply, Azalina said the homestay programme she announced earlier was regulated by procedure and could not be set up on a whim.
“We send every parliamentary constituency an invitation and they in turn have to reply. Following this, we will send them a form outlining what has to be done.
Azalina’s reply irked Anifah, who shot back that the procedure outlined by Azalina was flawed.
“Why do we need to ask for the forms? Why not just send it to us? After all, you have announced it,” he said.
Anifah then asked Azalina if she was engaging in rhetoric “as we identified the sites for the mini-stadiums, but nothing came of it”.
“Is this a political gimmick on the ministry’s part to fool the people?”
To this, Azalina replied that the ministry did not want to send forms to everyone and noted that not all members of parliaments were interested and some had not replied to the initial letter issued by the ministry.
To Anifah’s question on whether the homestay programme would go the way of the “mini-stadium promise”, she said any decision on the mini-stadium project would have to be determined by the Cabinet Committee on Sports and the Economic Planning Unit.
“They are the ones who decide. I can’t decide on the number to be built. It is best to ask the Sports Ministry for the figure.”
Anifah, who was not mollified by the answer, pressed on by taking Azalina to task for making the announcement on the mini-stadiums while knowing that the ultimate decision rested with another entity.
It was just not Azalina’s day as she was also criticised by an opposition backbencher when she said that the homestay programme was only for BN parliamentary constituencies.
“We are starting with BN constituencies but under the next phase, will do it in the opposition constituencies.”
Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) attacked Azalina’s approach in the matter, saying the programme should be extended to all constituencies.
“When there is a problem and we criticise, you say we only know how to criticise. Why not include everyone (in this programme) so we can all contribute?” she asked.
Azalina said opposition MPs were welcome to implement the programme in their constituencies if they wanted to by contacting the ministry.
On allegations that Tourism Malaysia subsidiaries practised bad management, she said the ministry would release the audit findings from PricewaterhouseCoopers on the matter.
The subsidiaries are Pempena Sdn Bhd, Malaysian Kitchen and Portal Malaysia My Destination.
Azalina’s empty promises and political gimmicks draw flack from fellow and opposition backbenchers