GEORGE TOWN, Dec 31 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has a posher ride in a brand new Mercedes Benz S300L, just two months after the state decided to buy its executive councillors (excos) a Toyota Camry each as their official cars.
In a bid to stem potential complaints against the switch, Lim said the state had initially planned to get the European luxury make for all excos but dropped the idea after claiming the car dealer was unable to clear a tax exemption on all units, choosing instead to go with the cheaper Japanese brand.
“It was our original intention to get Mercedes Benz for all the state executive councillors to replace the old cars, but the car dealer could not give a guarantee that they are able to provide us with tax exemption for the cars so we decided to get 15 Toyota Camry instead as Toyota was able to guarantee us tax exemption,” Lim told reporters here today.
The Toyota Camry that had been Lim’s since October 31 has been passed down to the deputy speaker of the state legislative assembly, Maktar Shapee.
Penang Financial Officer Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Jait told reporters that it was only later, on November 20, that the car dealer was able to confirm a tax exemption will be given on the Mercedes Benz, which saw the state excos agreeing that their leader should have the car for his official ride.
Mokhtar also said the Penang chief minister has a legal right to use two cars, that is a Mercedes Benz S400 and a Mercedes Benz S300, although he stressed that Lim currently has only one car for official purposes.
“The price of the Mercedes Benz S300L is RM298,263.75 after tax exemption and a RM100,000 discount by the car dealer,” Mokhtar said.
The on-the-road price of the luxury car was originally RM659,888 including taxes and duty.
He said this price is worth the value of the car as the car is expected to last longer, similar to the previous car, the Mercedes-Benz S320L that was bought back on September 4, 1995.
“Even the price of this new Mercedes-Benz S300L, after tax exemption and discount, is only slightly higher than the old Mercedes-Benz S320L that was bought at RM271,331.22 back in 1995,” he said.
He said the car dealers had also given a guarantee to the state government that it could return the car if it is unable to get a tax exemption for the vehicle which is why the state executive council had agreed to the purchase of the car as the chief minister’s official car.
State executive councillor Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said the state executive council had insisted on purchasing the Mercedes-Benz as the official car for the chief minister due to safety and security reasons.
“As the leader of the state administration, there is nothing wrong for the chief minister to have a different car than the rest of the state executive councillors,” he said.
Ever since the Pakatan Rakyat took over the state administration in 2008, the state government had expressed its intention to change the state executive councillors’ official cars to new ones but had deferred it till this year.
All of the state executive councillors’ official cars are more than a decade old and many are in poor conditions that required regular repair works.
The state executive councillors new fleet of black Toyota Camry, costing RM1.7 million in total, arrived on October 31 this year.