This is reported in the NST today:
She said since Todt, who was appointed last month, was serving and promoting the country on a voluntary basis, it was only fair that the government covered his expenses.
“Just because he is volunteering his services, you cannot expect him to pay out of his own pocket.
“This budget is not for his personal use, it is for the expenses incurred when he meets top people from television and the media.
“Besides, RM1 million in Europe gets you nothing nowadays,” she said at the Parliament lobby.
The ‘she’ refered to is a minister in charge of Tourism.
Before I go further, I would want to stress that Jean Todt, as a foreigner married who is a good freind of a Malaysian Michelle Yeoh, must be commended for his good intention in volunteering his service to promote Malaysia, and I am sure being a super rich guy, he would never ask to be reimbursed for his expenses in promoting Malaysia.
It was also laudable for the Ministry to propose to reimburse him on his expenses, too.
What I cannot understand is the need to utter this phrase: “Rm 1 million in Europe gets you nothing nowadays”.
And because of that, and being the cynic I am, I wish to say that for most of us, 1 million is a big big sum, and certainly it can still buy a lot in Europe. Even in Europe, not many people earn a million RM a year (more than 200,000 euros)
I cannot help but to think of the time of the French Revolution.
This is from one of my old writings in 2008:
In 1789, during the French Revolution, when the people of France were living in economic and political malaise and a mob of hungry people marched to the Palace of Versailles, the Queen of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, asked a courtier that if the mob had no bread to eat, why didn’t they ‘eat cake’? So much out of touch was she as she had lived a lifestyle of excesses while the people were dying of hunger.
One million is by any count not a small sum. Of course if you have been dealing with millions and millions of govenrment budget ( which is funded with people’s money – in case she forgets), one million may seem small.
This is the common problem with many of the people holding high position. It is precisely because of this attidude that a lot of wastages occurred , since to them all these wastages may seem small and ‘kacang putih’ stuff.
Having said all these, if Jean and Michelle can do well to promote the country and bring lot of tourists to Malaysia, we should certainly reimburse all their expenses.
I would stress again that this article is not about Jean and Michelle , but about the mentality of the power-that-be that decides public funds.