KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today in his Chinese New Year greetings took a swipe at Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob, who is under the spotlight for buying a new Mercedes Benz S-class that allegedly cost RM600,000 and 14 more with different engine sizes for the state government’s use.
“Despite having to borrow from the federal government to do so, there are state government leaders who can still reward themselves with expensive luxury vehicles (Mercedes Benz) and a special RM50,000 bonus,” he said in a statement, referring to Ahmad.
Lim went on to say that despite the weaknesses in the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, there is no doubt the party has performed better than the previous government, calling his party to continue focusing on the economy and reduce the cost of living.
“This is not just limited to losses from RM150 billion of financial scandals from the previous government but has also extended to state governments that are practically bankrupt and run incompetently,” he said.
He also urged moderation-based thinking on democracy, rule of law, and called on PH to reject those trying to regain the power they once had through corruption and economic mismanagement targeting non-Malays and non-Muslims.
“Being moderate is neither appeasement nor confrontational. All must be willing to look at issues from a national, and not sectional, perspective in accordance with the Federal Constitution, democratic norms and basic human rights.
“The Chinese community should distance themselves from some Chinese personalities and institutions, who for selfish gain are willing to support those using a dangerous, divisive and destructive politics,” he said adding that the way moving forward for Malaysia is to protect race, religion, geography, and demography.
He added that the Chinese community should strongly reject those who oppose funding for vernacular schools with some even calling for it to be closed down, and those who boycott non-Muslim products and businesses.
“Even those who bar non-Muslims from becoming Cabinet Ministers, dispossess Indians and Chinese the right to vote, show outright contempt for the religious celebrations and practices of non-Muslims; and spread vicious lies against non-Muslims that is justifiable just because they are non-Muslims.
“If these racists, religious extremists, and chauvinists gain ascendancy in their respective communities, then everyone will be the loser, whether Malay or non-Malay, Muslim or non-Muslim,” he added in the statement.
Meanwhile, Lim highlighted that he is convinced with the de-escalation of the trade war between US and China, will see the Malaysian economy doing better in 2020 compared to 2019.
“With the reduction of RON95 from RM2.20 per liter to RM 2.08 per liter (helping to control the 2019 inflation rate at only 0.7 per cent), the proposed 18 per cent reduction in toll rates of private vehicles for PLUS highways, PH is delivering on its election promise.
“The solidarity and unity of PH component parties in nation-building and succession plan from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, should provide continued political cohesiveness and stability,” he said.
On Friday, Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Mohd Amar Abdullah argued that the purchase of Mercedes-Benz for its high-ranking officials was blown out of proportion.
The PAS leader asked: “Are we supposed to use a (Perodua) Viva?”
The state government had purchased a total of 14 Mercedes-Benz cars with different engine sizes but was unsure of the total cost. Ahmad’s official car, however, is an S450L AMG Line with a reported price tag of above RM600,000.
Mohd Amar also argued that the new cars would be cheaper to maintain than the previous Proton Perdana official cars, which are more than a decade old and said it was not about showing off.
The Mercedes-Benz controversy surfaced in the wake of PAS leaders criticising the PH’s government's proposal to purchase Toyota Vellfire vehicles for ministers and senior government officials.
However, on January 9, Lim said ministers would continue to use Proton Perdana cars as official vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Kelantan Mentri Besar’s Office also denied the suggestion that it had used the federal government’s special allocation to purchase the Mercedes-Benz cars