The rumour was rife when MCA Deputy Education Minister launched the national "Reading Newspapers Campaign" in SJK (C) Lick Hung, Subang Jaya recently followed by a series of the similar program in various parts of the country.
Now it is reported by Malaysiakini today, that MCA has used the annual government allocation given to each of the consituencies held by MCA to sponsor the ailing Nanyang Siang Pau.
The ACA should immediately institute investigation. If it were true, it would be a strong case of corruption.
The Malaysiakini reported as follows:-
Use ‘gov’t funds to buy Nanyang’Kuek Ser Kuang KengJul 24, 06 3:00pm
MCA leaders have been urged to use about RM1 million of government-allocated funds to buy copies of the ailing party-owned newspaper, Nanyang Siang Pau.According to a letter obtained by malaysiakini, party leaders with ministerial posts are asked to contribute RM20,000 each to the Chinese-language newspaper for a joint MCA-Nanyang programme to promote the reading habit among students.For MCA deputy ministers, the contribution should be RM15,000. As for parliamentary secretary, it is RM12,000, and for members of parliament, RM10,000. Senators and leaders who hold government posts at the state level are also asked to make contributions."Sponsorship can be paid to Nanyang through the annual government allocation (for elected representatives)," said the letter from Nanyang, which was sent to MCA leaders early this year.The government has allocated RM2 million each to ruling Barisan Nasional MPs for the “development of their constituencies” this year.The allocation was increased from RM500,000 last year, but opposition-held constituencies do not get any of the money.According to the two-page letter, copies of the newspaper bought by MCA leaders are to be distributed to the schools in their respective constituencies for free.Media observers have however cried foul. They alleged that the programme was to boost the circulation of the troubled newspaper by using taxpayers’ funds. The letter gives details of the proposed scale of sponsorship for MCA leaders based on their respective posts.The total sum works out to RM923,000. The letter described MCA representatives as a “supporting unit”, and urged them to use the government allocations to uphold Chinese education.A reply slip is attached for the leaders to list the sponsored sum, constituency and other details. Replies are to be sent to Nanyang’s reading programme head Fun Tiong Heng and the MCA headquarters.‘Others also involved’ When contacted, Fun said representatives from other ruling parties such as Gerakan and MIC as well as business people have sponsored this programme previously."This is a very good programme as it cultivates the reading habit among pupils," he said, adding that it has been carried out since the 1990s. When asked about why government funds are to be used to support the programme, Fun said it was a decision was made by MCA.He added that the question regarding government funding should be directed at the party leadership. The letter also states that the programme will be carried out for 124 schooldays from May 5 to Nov 17.Under the sponsorship scheme, the newspaper is priced at 80 sen, compared to the regular cover price of RM1.30. Based on the figures, the total sponsorship will work out to 9,304 newspapers per day.Observers claimed that the daily is using this programme to increase its circulation, which has been falling in recent years. In the 1980s, Nanyang was the country’s leading Chinese newspaper.Its problems heightened after MCA took over the daily in 2001 amidst strong objections and concerns over its editorial independence. It is currently ranked third among the four Chinese newspapers with a circulation of 131,297.