By The Malketeer

In a significant development, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has initiated an investigation into alleged corruption associated with the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ campaign, a project spearheaded by former Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The probe, focusing on certain projects during Ismail’s tenure, has prompted MACC investigators to deploy a team to the Prime Minister’s Department and the Finance Ministry to retrieve pertinent documents believed to shed light on alleged irregularities surrounding specific projects executed during Ismail’s leadership.

Media reports have revealed that the inquiry specifically targets contracts related to promoting the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept, introduced by Ismail in August 2021. The investigators are concentrating on alleged corruption in awarding contracts for ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ billboards and promotional materials, with estimates suggesting the contracts could be valued around RM300 million.

It is widely speculated that the proposed RM282.28 million budget breakdown compromised of Mainstream Media (RM81.28m); Digital Portal (RM28m); Research, Digital Seeding & Application (RM19m); Billboards & Mobile Ads (RM50m); Online & Social Media (RM 50.5m) ; Keluarga Malaysia Souvenirs (RM27.5m); and Services (RM26m).

Altogether 7 vendors were awarded the PMO 9 Communication Plan and Media Buy exercise under Direct Nego and is said to include Violet Pacific; Terranego; 99 Media; VS; Aurora; AACWL; and ITVCAD. Additionally, some sources claim that RM54.7m relating to PM9 Keluarga Malaysia comms and media buy remained unutilised due to the change of Government at the end of November 2022 after the 15th. General Election.

In addition to Ismail Sabri Yaakob, several of his former officers, including an aide appointed to a senior position in the Prime Minister’s Office, are subjects of the MACC investigation. The agency is anticipating summoning Ismail and the former officers for statements, with plans to call them soon.

MACC Chief Azam Baki confirmed the ongoing investigation into the former prime minister and several former officers under the MACC Act 2009. However, Baki declined to provide further details when contacted by media outlets.

Recent reports suggest that MACC is also preparing to summon another former top government leader and a former private secretary for questioning next week. The two individuals are under investigation for the alleged misappropriation of millions of ringgit from a government fund.

This development comes on the heels of government spokesperson and Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil’s statement urging transparency in the RM700 million expenditure on advertising and publicity by the previous two governments.

Diving deeper into the breakdown of these expenses, Anwar Ibrahim informed the Dewan Rakyat that a considerable chunk of RM500 million was disbursed during the tenure of former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, spanning from 2020 to 2021. The remaining RM200 million, on the other hand, was expended during the subsequent administration led by Prime Minister Ismail, covering the period from 2021 to 2022.

The disclosure by Anwar Ibrahim has ignited debates and concerns among various quarters.

“This translates to an average annual expenditure exceeding RM300 million on advertising, promotion, and publicity endeavours aimed at showcasing the government’s initiatives,” Anwar Ibrahim commented. He further expressed his apprehensions, suggesting that such a level of spending might be in violation of established rules and regulations, indicating potential excessive expenditure.

The probe into this substantial advertising and publicity spending has raised questions about transparency, accountability, and the necessity of such a significant financial commitment. The public, stakeholders, and political observers are keenly awaiting the findings of the investigation to shed light on whether the allocated funds were utilised effectively and efficiently to communicate the government’s achievements.

While the intent behind promoting the government’s efforts and achievements is understandable, the scale and magnitude of the expenditure has sparked concerns about fiscal responsibility and prudence. Critics argue that such vast amounts of money could have been allocated to other pressing needs or utilised more judiciously to benefit the nation and its citizens.

As the probe unfolds, it is essential to ensure a thorough and comprehensive investigation that examines all aspects of the RM700 million expenditure. The findings of this investigation will not only determine the accountability of the previous administrations but also pave the way for reforms, transparency, and improved governance in managing public funds.

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