Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng continued to defend the state’s purchase of a Mercedes-Benz for use as his official car.
The most important thing about buying the new Mercedes-Benz S300L as his official car, he said, was the value the state got.
"It was a value-for-money purchase because of the tax and duty exemptions and discount.
"In the long run, the maintenance cost for a Mercedes-Benz is also better," he said at his Komtar office today.
Yesterday, Lim explained why he had swapped his two-month-old Toyota Camry for a new Mercedes-Benz as his official car, following the state executive council's decision on November 20 that took into account the safety of state leaders.
He said the state bought the silver Mercedes-Benz S300L at RM298,263.75 without insurance, at a discounted and tax exempted price.
The original price of the car was RM657,218.
Yesterday, state opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid said it was a waste of funds to get him another car just after two months.
Pulau Betong assemblyperson Muhammad Farid Saad said the state should be fair to all exco members and get each of them a Mercedes-Benz if Lim had one because the car was safer and more secure to travel in.
When Lim was asked to respond to criticisms regarding the new car, in the wake of Malaysians bracing themselves for price hikes this year, he told deputy chief minister I Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon to answer.
Rashid again explained that buying the car was a state executive council decision, made after long discussions.
He said the state wanted the best price for the car when the purchase was made.
"We wanted the car to arrive together with the Toyotas but there was no stock at the time."
He said had the Mercedes-Benz supplier been able to give a guarantee that it would take back 15 of its cars should the Finance Ministry reject the tax exemption, the other excos would be using a Mercedes-Benz E250 now.
"The council agreed to buy 15 Mercedeses but since the guarantee was not given, we bought the Camrys instead. We got tax exemptions for those, too," he said.
State executive councillor Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim also defended the purchase, saying that as a Mercedes owner himself, he could attest to the vehicle's quality in terms of passenger safety and security.
He said he doubted a Toyota Camry would last as an official car for as long as 18 years like the last one.
When a reporter asked Lim if the Mercedes was comfortable, Lim smiled.
After a moment, he replied: "it is very subjective". – January 1, 2014.