Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Aziz has said his son was not on the government payroll though he is listed as a “special assistant”.
Nazri said he paid Muhammad Nedim Nazri to carry out youth activities in his constituency.
“I can call him errand boy or office boy, if that would please people. I am paying him, not the government,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.
The controversial Nedim whose brushes with notoriety in the past had earned Nazri unnecessary attention is in the spotlight again, this time for being listed as an employee in the Ministry website, raising questions of “nepotism and cronyism”, reported The Malaysiakini news portal today.
The Ministry site, however, does not detail what Nedim's responsibilities are as a special officer.
Nazri said his son ran programmes for the youth in his Padang Rengas constituency in Perak.
“Obviously someone young has to be doing it. I don’t want an Umno Youth person doing it as I am trying to reach as many youngsters as possible. So I asked him and I am paying him for it from my own pocket,” said Nazri who said Nedim is not an Umno member.
Nazri said he had six officers who assisted him and were paid by the government.
He said they are my principal private secretay Datuk Azlinda Mohd Rashad, private secretary Dr Jurij Jalaludin, political secretary Datuk Mohamad Ismail Osman, press secretary Ahamad Fazli Ahamad Nordin, special functions officer in parliament Suzana Akmam Selamat Amir and my bodyguard Shahdan.
“All the Ministers are eligible to the same number of staff,” he said.
The issue was first raised by a pro-establishment blogger Cucu Tok Selampit, who had said that this could turn off 'supporters of the government'.
"How can supporters of the government defend their leaders if they keep practising nepotism and cronyism?
"We cannot talk about (Pakatan Rakyat leaders) Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh and Nik Aziz etc. who promote their children if Umno/BN leaders do so themselves," said the blogger.
Last year, Nedim got his father into a spot of bother when he was pictured driving a luxury car registered to controversial businessman Michael Chia.
Chia and Sabah Umno leaders were reportedly investigated for graft involving RM40 million, but all were cleared.
Nedim was also in the news last year after his bodyguards allegedly assaulted a condominium security guard.
The then Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had said in a written reply in Parliament the matter had been resolved. – August 14, 2013.