PUTRAJAYA • Malaysia's Cabinet ministers will continue to use Proton Perdana cars as their official vehicles, instead of switching to the Toyota Vellfire, a top official said, following a public backlash.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said yesterday that the decision to retain the use of the Perdana - a Malaysia-assembled car based on an old model of the Honda Accord - was made after it was discovered that there was an adequate supply of Perdana cars.
News that Cabinet ministers would be using Vellfires sparked plenty of public debate, with many questioning the need for the government to indulge in luxury cars for official use after it said the country is mired in debt.
When the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition took over the federal government in 2018, it said that the previous administration had amassed debts totalling RM1 trillion (S$330 billion), and started belt-tightening measures in order to reduce the debts.
Top officials have been using Proton cars as their official vehicles since Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's first stint as prime minister.
"The government wanted to maintain Perdana as the official car. But we were told there were not enough so we were given a second option," Mr Lim told a news conference after his ministry's monthly assembly.
"Now we have information that there are enough Perdana cars for ministers and deputy ministers so we will be sticking with Perdana," he added.
Mr Lim said the contract for the supply of official government cars was being finalised, and an announcement will be made at a later date.
It was earlier reported that the government was in the midst of appointing a new company to procure official cars for senior officers, including ministers.
The appointment of the new company follows the end of a 25-year concession with Spanco last year, months after the PH coalition took over.
It was reported that the deal would have seen 32 units of the Toyota Vellfire for ministers and 3,000 Honda Accords for senior government officials, including deputy ministers, replacing the Proton Perdana and Toyota Camry cars currently being used.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK