on Nov 18, 2010

Rais refuses to answer questions on USP fund

KUALA LUMPUR: Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim this morning refused to entertain questions posed by The Malay Mail.

This reporter was brushed off when she approached Rais after the ministry and its agencies' Korban ceremony at the Muhammadu Mosque, Angkasapuri, to ask about the Universal Services Provision (USP) fund issue which is currently being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Rais, who was approached at the end of his Press conference, turned away the reporter after learning she was from The Paper That Cares. After asking where this reporter is from, Rais said: "I will speak to you after I have my lunch."

When approached again, after he had had his lunch, Rais merely said: "No, I don't want to talk to you."

Azli Noh, Rais' Press secretary who was approached after the minister left, told The Malay Mail the ministry can't comment on the USP fund issue.

"This matter should be dealt directly with MACC which is in the midst of investigating the issue," said Azli.

He said the ministry was not able to comment on this further.

Last week, MACC investigation director Mustafar Ali confirmed they had launched investigations into the possible misappropriation of the USP fund.

MACC, however, is keeping mum on the progress of their investigations.

“We are investigating the allegation and that is all I can comment,” Mustafar told The Malay Mail.

An MACC source, however, revealed in an English daily that the probe would also be looking at the alleged discrepancies in the netbook initiative financed by the USP fund.

''They want to know the process, mechanism and criteria surrounding the netbook initiative,'' the source said.

The source, according to the newspaper report, also said MACC was looking into the possibility of individuals from the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry abusing their powers.

It was also reported the MACC probe was initiated after Wangsa Maju Member of Parliament Wee Choo Keong and several prominent bloggers raised issues over the utilisation of money from the USP Fund.




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