6 July 2000
KOTA KINABALU: Angkatan Hebat Sdn Bhd denied Wednesday it is involved in leasing vehicles to the Tawau and Sandakan municipal councils at exorbitant rentals.
A spokesman said when contacted that the controversial RM15,000-a-month (RM180,000 per year) Mercedes Benz that was leased to the Tawau Municipal Council for his use was under an arrangement made in a separate contract between the Ministry of Local Government and Housing and a private limited company.
The spokesman admitted that Angkatan hebat had been receiving countless inquiries from the public on the matter.
Tawau Council President Datuk Hamzah Amir had stressed on Monday that the car was an entitlement accorded in the Local Government Ordinance.
He was responding to a query by Sri Tanjung Assemblyman Samson Chin.
The Angkatan Hebat spokesman also pointed out that the rental of similar vehicles leased by the company to the State Government is actually 40 per cent less than the rate that was quoted for the TMC.
Angkatan Hebat began leasing vehicles to the State Govenrment in 1995 under a 20-year concession.
Warisan Harta Sabah Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the State Government, holds a 40 per cent stake in Angkatan Hebat.
Meanwhile, the Consumers Association of Sabah/Labuan (Cash) questioned whether the Council was acting in the interest of ratepayers when there was so much that need to be done in Tawau.
Its President Patrick Sindu said the Council is not being seen to be prudent with its spending, especially under the current economic climate.
"The Council should be placing greater emphasis on improving public services through the provision of additional facilities, considering that the national economy had not fully recovered yet," he said.
If the TMC could reap surplus profits, it could render assistance to other local authorities in resolving their financial constraints, he added.
"Hence the RM15,000 per month on rental of a Mercedes Benz for the use of the Council President is a waste of funds," he said.
"Visitors to Tawau have complained how dirty the town is. Imagine how many dustbins could have been acquired to make the municipality cleaner," he said.
It also noted reports that some other district councils could not afford to pay out bonuses and overtime expenses of their staff.
"It would save the Government a lot of money if the Council purchased its own car, instead of renting it at an exorbitant rate", he added.
Sindu urged the local authorities to be more proactive in their approach towards improving public services, in line with the Government's aspiration to serve the people better.
He regretted that there seemed to have been only lip service so far by many in Sabah, including politicians, to the Prime Minister's call to use the Malaysian car like the Proton Perdana.