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Saturday, 26 April 2008

Saturday April 26, 2008
The Star - News

Did Balkis have the right to move out the RM9.9m?

PETALING JAYA: The RM9.9mil in the bank account of the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) belonged to it. And Balkis was within its rights to hand the money over to another organisation.

This is the stand of the president of the organisation at that time, Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik.

“We have sought legal advice and our lawyers advised us on the options available – either to put the money with any organisation or give it to the state.

Balkis members are proud of our work for the poor, we will never take what does not belong to us... DATIN SERI ZAHRAH KECHIK

“After some deliberations, we decided to give the money to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti),” Zahrah said yesterday.

The money was moved after a March 11 emergency meeting of Balkis, just days after the state government fell to the Pakatan Rakyat.

The current Selangor government is questioning the legality of the transfer of the funds.

Zahrah’s husband and former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo said the organisation consulted its auditors and legal adviser before making the transfer and there was no “hanky-panky involved”.

Zahrah added that Balkis had decided to channel the money to Bakti because the two organisations have similar objectives.

She said the organisation’s constitution allowed for the money to be transferred to the state government or another entity with similar structure and charity orientation like Balkis – provided the recipient is recognised by the director-general of the Inland Revenue Board.

“Balkis was formed by wives of Barisan Nasional elected representatives who wanted to do something for the underprivileged.

“Now that Selangor is ruled by the opposition coalition, the members felt they could no longer serve effectively and that the organisation should be dissolved,” said Zahrah, adding that she chaired the March 11 meeting in her capacity as Balkis president.

“Balkis members worked hard to raise the RM9.9mil through various fund-raising activities over the years. The money is used to help the underprivileged groups in the state.

“All income, expenditure and contributions are clearly documented. Balkis members are proud of our work for the poor, we will never take what does not belong to us,” she said.

She said the wives of elected representatives under Khalid’s administration could also establish a similar organisation if they too desired to help the poor.

Dr Khir said the association was unsure if Khalid’s government would want to go on with the programmes already in place, or use the money for similar intentions,

He said the money was transferred to Bakti with the condition that those under Balkis’ Poor Students’ Aid Programme would continue to receive the aid.

“There was some worry after Pakatan Rakyat won the state that the new government might remove some of the students from the list (of recipients) and the poor students would not be able to continue their studies,” he said.

Dr Khir said the money was also used to fund a shelter home for women in Section 7, Shah Alam.

“The movement may want to establish a new association. The new association will be headed by Puan Sri Asbi Rohani Asnan, in her capacity as the wife of Selangor Umno chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib,” he said.

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