The Youth and Sports Ministry is maintaining that it had indeed footed the bill for the controversial RM1.6 million Hari Belia K-Pop concert last year, after private sponsors pulled out.

NONEThis was insisted upon in a written parliamentary reply to Batu MP Tian Chua (left), a copy of which was distributed to reporters at Parliament today.

Tian Chua had wanted to know if the K-Pop concert was “sponsored”, as initially claimed, and the breakdown in expenses.

“It is true that the concert was funded by the ministry. The earlier statement that the concert was sponsored by private sponsors was made as, at the time, there had been offers by private parties to sponsor the activity,” the ministry stated in its response.

It went on to state that in the end, no sponsorship were received, forcing the ministry to bear the costs for the concert.

“Even so, the K-Pop concert was only held on Hari Belia 2012,” it added in the reply.

In a previous written reply, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar stated that the Hari Belia 2012 marketing and sponsorship unit initially received a "verbal" confirmation from some companies, but the latter withdrew “at the last minute”.

Conflicting statements

The controversy came to light recently following findings in the2012 Auditor-General’s Report which stated that the ministry had forked out the hefty sum to bring down three K-Pop groups despite the ministry claiming last year that the concert was privately sponsored.

NONEThis was soon followed by conflicting explanations by Khairy (right) and Ahmad Shaberry Cheek, who was the minister at the time of the concert.

Khairy had stated that the ministry was forced to stumped out the money after corporate sponsorswithdrew, while Ahmad Shaberry claimed sponsors banked the funds into the National Sports Council's account.

The resulting debate led Ahmad Shaberry, who is now communication and multimedia minister, to declare himself willing to defend his version of events to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) and suggested the proceeding be telecast live.

He is set to face the PAC tomorrow, but not live as standing orders prevent any PAC proceeding from being made public until a final report is tabled.

~ Malaysiakini