KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing today claimed he was the target of unnamed groups in the civil service and tourism industry hoping to block planned reforms to the industry, after he was accused disrespecting Muslim staff by consuming pork and alcohol in his ministry’s office.
In a statement challenging his anonymous accusers to provide evidence of their claim, Tiong said there was a clear pattern in the attempts to make him the target of racial tension. Prior to the latest incident, political rivals have also previously gone after Tiong over his personal alcohol consumption, which he was acceptable as he was not a Muslim.
“Since I helmed the post, I admit I may have offended some people who have a self-interest in civil service or the industry because of my refusal to pursue reform in certain aspects,” he said on Facebook today.
“But I am not afraid because I am confident that what I did was right and for the benefit of the nation and people even though it has hurt other people’s feelings.”
Yesterday, anonymous claims emerged that Tiong consumed pork and alcohol in his office, after which he would force cleaners who were Muslim to wash up after him.
Tiong said the person or persons spreading the rumour and claiming to be a “Former Deputy Head Secretary of the Health Ministry” was uninformed, as the ministry did not retain cleaners. Instead, it was the practice for individuals to wash their own plates and utensils, he said.
“We only order from Chinese restaurants from hotels around Putrajaya when we receive guests from China.
“If the complainant knows which Chinese restaurant from a hotel serves pork, tell us and recommend it to us,” he said.
Alcohol is only received in the office when they are brought by foreign guests who come from various backgrounds and cultures, he added.
“As the representative of the civil service, I don’t reject the gift and at the same time, (but) it is improper for me to take it home when it was given to me during an official meeting.
“We try to give the gift to another recipient like an officer or a foreign guest during dinners or other occasions; is this all wrong?” he asked.
He emphasised that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture are always sowing the spirit of unity and that there is no room for disrespect against one another.