Kelantan leader under fire over luxury car

Kelantan Chief Minister Ahmad Yakob is using a brand new $198,300 Mercedes Benz S-class as his official car.
Kelantan Chief Minister Ahmad Yakob is using a brand new $198,300 Mercedes Benz S-class as his official car.

KOTA BARU • Kelantan Chief Minister Ahmad Yakob is in the spotlight after buying a new Mercedes Benz S-class that cost RM600,000 (S$198,300) in one of Malaysia's poorest states, local media reported yesterday.

The state, led by Datuk Ahmad, who is also deputy spiritual leader of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), recently received a RM400 million "goodwill" cash injection from the federal Pakatan Harapan government.

This has led to accusations that some of that money was siphoned off for the car purchase.

Pictures on social media showed the shiny black S450L AMG Mercedes model, with the special number plate of DV 1. Mr Ahmad is using the vehicle as his official car.

Malaysiakini news site reported that in contrast, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's official car is a 2.4-litre Proton Perdana, which retails at RM127,000.

The federal government recently decided to continue using the Proton Perdana - a rebadged old Honda Accord model - as the official car for the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members.

In Malaysia, vehicles are sold at a steep discount to elected officials such as MPs and state assemblymen as they are exempted from paying excise duties.

Purchases of luxury vehicles by top officials often attract brickbats, as critics say public money is used for such items. Similar criticism arose in 2014, when then Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng bought a Mercedes-Benz S300L with the plate PG 1 as his official car.

In Mr Ahmad's case, his office denied using the RM400 million special allocation given by the federal government to buy a fleet of Mercedes-Benz as official cars for its senior officials, as alleged recently.

 

The Menteri Besar's Office said the state government's decision to buy the German cars was made on Sept 12, 2018, to replace - in stages - the ageing official fleet with newer cars, Malay Mail online news reported yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2020, with the headline 'Kelantan leader under fire over luxury car'. Print Edition | Subscribe