KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has acknowledged that his state government could have decided on a better time to replace his official car, after backlash over the new Mercedes-Benz S560e luxury hybrid saloon.

Chow has been under friendly fire after he was seen alighting from his new wheels in the state capital three days ago while Malaysia is battling a resurgence of Covid-19 cases with the Health director-general warning that the worst is to come.

“I take note of all the views and I would like to clarify that we followed the proper administrative process before purchasing the car.

“But as the chief minister, if there is an offended party who feels that the purchase was made at a wrong time and that the purchase could have been delayed, I will take the final responsibility,” Chow was quoted by The Star as telling reporters in George Town today.

He noted that questions had been asked on whether the money spent on his new official car came at the price of public welfare, but indicated that it was a separate matter.

“There are worries that the money used to buy the car had affected the welfare of the people.

“However, before the issue was raised, I asked my exco members and finance director to prepare a budget for the economic stimulus package for those affected by the pandemic if the MCO is announced,” he was quoted saying.

He reportedly promised that his state government will exercise more caution in making future purchases.

“This is a lesson for us and we understand that people are worried and that the timing of the purchase was not appropriate.”

Chow raised eyebrows when he got out of the new Mercedes-Benz on January 7 at City Hall in George Town.

Among his critics were former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman who called it an unnecessary expenditure when many Malaysians were jobless or in dire economic straits due to Covid-19 and the latest disaster, the floods brought on by seasonal monsoon weather.

The Muar MP also drew parallels between the Penang chief minister and the Kelantan mentri besar who also replaced his official car with a Mercedes-Benz last year.

Penang State Secretary Datuk Abdul Razak Jaafar said the new Mercedes-Benz is a 2019 model bought at a price of RM458,122.78 to replace the official car bought back in 2013.

He added that the car was purchased with a discount of RM127,765.22 from its original price, and that the Penang state executive council approved its purchase on November 29, 2019.

The new car is almost double the price of the previous official car used by Chow which was bought at RM298,263.75.