PETALING JAYA: Permata and the prime minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, have declined the “Lead by Example” award to avoid further controversy.
“We deplore attempts to politicise the work of an exemplary organisation whose only aim is to improve the lives of children,” said the prime minister’s press secretary, Datuk Seri Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, in a statement issued yesterday in response to reports that the award to be given to Rosmah, who founded Permata in 2007, had been deferred.
Clarifying the issue, Tengku Sariffuddin stressed that neither Permata, Rosmah nor the government had ever applied for the award.
He said on Sept 8, Irina Bokova, in her capacity as Unesco director-general, had sent
letters to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, Rosmah and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman stating that Rosmah was to be given a special tribute award at an event co-hosted by Unesco on Sept 22.
Tengku Sariffuddin said the award was in recognition of efforts undertaken by the government to counter extremism through the education system, specifically the approach taken by Permata under the patronage of Rosmah.
However, on Sept 18, Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations received an email from Prof Tudor Parfitt, chairman of the academic advisory board of the organising committee of the “Tribute to Contributors to the Global Campaign Against Violent Extremism”, stating that the award was to be deferred to 2017 due to what he called “intervention” from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times regarding the funding of Permata.
“We regret that those who chose to bestow the award have given in to the smears and insinuations of some who are only focused on their campaign against Malaysia, the government and the prime minister,” he said.
“Those behind this politically motivated campaign care nothing for the damage caused by these false allegations to Permata, its staff and all the young people they have helped and care for.”
He said Permata is wholly funded by the government under an allocation transparently included in the country’s Budget and approved by Parliament.
“All expenditure are in accordance with the government’s financial procedures. This is not only a matter of public record, but could have been immediately explained had we (the government) or Permata been asked prior to the award deferment,” he added.