Rosmah Mansor, the prime minister's wife, has defended her use of government-sponsored private jets for visits abroad, saying these trips were for work and not leisure.

According to a lengthy interview at her residence with Malaysia Gazette, Rosmah said her tight schedule has meant that the use of commercial airlines was unsuitable.

"We work to a schedule, especially when a programme is prepared by the host," she was quoted as saying.

NONEShe said that the trips were referred to the cabinet, which had among other factors, considered security and time, before granting approval.

The government-sponsored private jet facility had been in place even before her husband, Najib Abdul Razak, became prime minister, she said.

She was responding to criticism of her use of a private jet in a recent trip to Qatar which was first raised by Gombak MP Azmin Ali (left) in Parliament.

According to the interview, Rosmah had departed from Langkawi to Qatar, and then proceeded to Dubai, Sri Lanka and finally Bangladesh.

She explained that had she used commercial flights, there would be problems as not all the said countries had regular connecting flights.

Rosmah, in the interview, also elaborated in detail about the agenda of her trip.

Rosmah said she had first departed from Langkawi to Qatar to deliver a keynote speech entitled 'The Empowerment of Malaysian Women' and was honoured with an award at Qatar International Businesswomen Forum.

NONE"In my keynote address I shared with them the successes of Malaysian women who are the pride of the nation. Ironically, while we are expressing pride of our nation to the international public, there are disgruntled voices on the home front.

"The international society eagerly pays tribute to Malaysia yet our people always have a negative outlook on what I do," she was quoted as saying.

The invitation for the event, said Rosmah, came from the Qatar embassy and had been referred to the Cabinet.

There, she had also met Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Nasser Khalifa Al-Tani.

Even though criticised for calling on a head of government as she was just a prime minister's wife, Rosmah defended the move.

"As a guest of the country, was I wrong in asking to pay my respects to the prime minister as the host? When wives of other prime ministers visit Malaysia, they too would do the same," she was quoted as saying.

‘Fashion show was coincidental'

Rosmah also addressed criticism of her visit to a fashion show in Qatar, saying that the even was organised by Malaysians and she was invited as she happened to be in the country on official business.

"I was not in Qatar because of the fashion show. I was in Qatar on an official invitation and happened to watch the fashion show organised by Malaysians there at their invitation.

"I am always supportive of any efforts by Malaysians wherever they are," she told the news portal.

She then flew to Dubai on invitation by Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai's ruler, to assist the emirate in setting up a programme similar to Malaysia's Permata, an early childhood education programme.

According to the interview, among the many activities there included visits to the Dubai Humanitarian City and Dubai Healthcare City that housed various humanitarian agencies.

Later, she flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka to join her husband for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and then to Bangladesh for an official visit to extend aid for children.

‘My international links helped Malaysia'

She also repeated her contributions in using her international contacts to help evacuate stranded Malaysian students in Egypt and freeing a Malaysian student in Egypt who was arrested for suspected spying.

gerakan egm 261013 najib 3Najib (right) had revealed the these exact deeds by his wife at the Umno general assembly when he spoke in defense of her.

"Without sounding boastful, my close relationships with the wives of other foreign leaders have at time proved advantageous for Malaysians."

"I did not expect people to thank me or be appreciative of the little efforts I put in.
"But please stop looking for faults in others, or meddle in other people's affairs.

"And don't create stories, for that is a major sin. I never talk bad of others, I never bad-mouth the opposition," Rosmah was quoted as saying. - Malaysiakini, 16/12/2013, Rosmah: Use of private jets for work, not fun