27 July 2001
LABUAN: At a whopping RM15,000 a month or RM180 per year for renting a Mercedes, one need not be a maths genius to realise that it is wiser to have the vehicle on hire-purchase.
Because after three years the vehicle is yours to keep unlike the current arrangements made for the Tawau and Sandakan Municipal Council Presidents.
Malaysia Democratic Party (MDP) Sabah Chief Fung Ket Wing said it is shocking that the Tawau Municipal Council found it fit to keep paying such a hefty sum for life when the Mercedes would still not belong to the State Government at the end of the day.
Fung also said the controversial leasing has opened up serious questions and hoped the Barisan Nasional Government which rode into power on the promise of greater accountability and transparency would explain to the public how a losing municipality like Tawau could afford to be so extravagant.
Among the questions Fung posed were also that since there was already an established company called Angkatan Hebat Sdn Bhd appointed to lease to the State Government vehicles under a 20-year concession effective 1995, how come a parallel company duplicating Angatan was allowed to be set up and to what extent this new company has been involved in also supplying vehicles to government agencies.
"Especially since Angkatan had openly said that the rental of its vehicles to the State Government is actually 40 per cent cheaper than what was charged by this parallel company.
"We are left to wonder why the official available cheaper choice was not used," Fung said.
Fung noted unless some logical explanations were forth coming, in the minds of the public the whole deal smelled fishy and it would do well on the part of the State Government to clear its image on the matter."
Fung noted it was not the fault of Tawau Municipal Council President Datuk Hamzah Amir for having been offered the vehicle since his position entitled him. The vehicle was supplied to him by the Local Government and Housing Ministry under a separate arrangement.
He said the public has the right to know how long this "funny arrangement" was in progress and under whose term of office as Chief Minister. (Not present CM Datuk Seri Osu Sukam).
He said it was also ironic that when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir launched the buy "Malaysian products" campaign, Sabah reacted swiftly by coming out in full support and even went a step further to indicate that it would get rid of its foreign-made cars in favour of "Perdana" for official use which provided similar comfort as a Mercedes and and was cheaper.
"Now with the incident in Tawau we are left to wonder how serious Sabah leaders are supporting the Prime Minister's wishes. It is best that the ACA also look at the controversial rental of the Mercedes," Fung said.