Abdul Karim apologises for saying “beggars cannot be choosers”

Abdul Karim (seated second from left), Wong (seated second from right) and other lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

KUCHING, July 16: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today apologised for using the proverbial phrase “beggars cannot be choosers” yesterday.

Yesterday, he had remarked that opposition assemblypersons should be happy because the state government was giving them funds annually to manage their service centres. He then uttered that controversial phrase when arguing that it was the prerogative of the government to determine the quantum to be allocated to legislators.

At an abrupt joint press conference with opposition lawmakers at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Media Centre today, Abdul Karim clarified that he did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings nor call anyone ‘beggars’.

He said those words were just a proverbial phrase.

“I was merely saying that the Sarawak government is caring to give minor rural project (MRP) funds to opposition members. Ok, I apologise if I’ve unintentionally used the wrong words,” he said.

Earlier, Pelawan assemblyman David Wong Kee Woan described Abdul Karim as being “irresponsible” for making such a remark as it could spark anger among the people, including Sibu folk.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the DUN sitting today, Wong wondered whether Abdul Karim was labelling opposition lawmakers or the voters as “beggars”.

In any case, he said the minister should apologise for making such a remark.

Wong pointed out that government funds were meant for the rakyat, and they were to be distributed by the elected representatives. It was not for the government to choose if it should give money to opposition lawmakers, he opined. — DayakDaily