MPs: Did PM’s son-in-law join Japan trip on public funds?

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Opposition MPs have questioned if Jovian Mandagie, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s son-in-law, was brought to Japan on public funds.

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This comes after Jovian was spotted in a picture of Ismail Sabri’s meeting with Itabashi Mayor Takeshi Sakamoto on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan that was uploaded to Bernama’s Twitter account.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil called for an explanation on how Jovian had paid for the trip.

“I think the public deserves to know whether Jovian went to Japan on the public purse or on his own.

Izzrafiq Alias/The Star

“If he went on the public purse, is this something the family of the prime minister is entitled to or is there a different arrangement? Is it something that is allowed by law?” he questioned.

This was echoed by Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching who said that there was no reason for taxpayers to fund Jovian’s trip.

“There is no reason why Malaysian taxpayers should pay for his flight and accommodation in Japan,” she said.

Jovian’s presence had sparked the ire of many netizens, who accused him of being the prime minister’s personal stylist due to his profession as a fashion designer.

This follows a viral picture of Ismail Sabri wearing a pricey shirt during a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday.

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Fashion-conscious netizens were quick to spot the black, blue, and white shirt from the British luxury brand Burberry, which costs RM5,500 according to the brand’s Malaysian website.

Fahmi said that while the prime minister is entitled to wear whatever shirt that he wants, it created a perception that he was out of touch with the public.

“At a time when people are facing such difficulties as lack of chicken in the market (and) the increasing price of goods, I think such a choice does create the perception of whether the prime minister is in or out touch with public sentiment, especially with regards to the cost of living.

“I would hate to imagine that Jovian had a hand in picking such as ‘tasteful’ shirt,” he said.

Fahmi pointed to Rosmah Mansor, wife of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who was notorious for brandishing expensive handbags.

“Yes, the prime minister is entitled to wear whatever he wants. But then again, if we remember, Rosmah was known to have flaunted a whole host of very expensive handbags.

“She was also entitled to that too, but it made her absolutely out of touch with the Malaysian public. I hope the prime minister doesn’t repeat such a mistake,” he said.

Fahmi acknowledged, however, that Ismail Sabri is known to have an interesting selection of shirts, having worn a colourful slew of batik shirts during daily Covid-19 press conferences during his time as defence minister in 2020.

“We have seen the prime minister wear amazingly kaleidoscopic shirts, one wonders whoever is his wardrobe curator, whether there is some method to this madness, so to speak,” he quipped.

Teo, on the other hand, believed that the prime minister’s choice of wardrobe did not reflect well on him.

“Our minimum wage is RM1,500. While the prime minister’s salary is high enough for him to buy an RM5,500 Burberry shirt, this does not reflect well on him.

“After 1MDB, Malaysia does not need any more top leaders who are famous for wearing branded items,” she said.

– Malaysiakini