Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Mohd Amar Abdullah reiterated his justification for the state government acquiring a fleet of Mercedes-Benz cars for its high-ranking officials.
Arguing that the issue should not be blown out of proportion, the PAS leader asked: “Are we supposed to use a (Perodua) Viva?”
He recalled how the late Kelantan menteri besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat wanted to sell his official car, which was also a Mercedes-Benz, after courting criticism.
Mohd Amar said he had advised Nik Aziz not to do so and to ignore the critics.
“If people want to criticise, let them do so. There must be 'reasonable' (munasabah) cars for the menteri besar and excos,” he added.
Yesterday, Mohd Amar said the state government had purchased a total of 14 Mercedes-Benz cars with different engine sizes but was unsure of the total cost.
Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob's official car, however, is an S450L AMG Line with a reported price tag of above RM600,000.
Mohd Amar also argued that the new cars would be cheaper to maintain than the previous Proton Perdana official cars, which are more than a decade old.
'This is not about showing off, luxury'
Meanwhile, the deputy menteri besar told reporters in Kota Bahru today that even Prophet Muhammad had used the “best camel” known as “al-Qaswa”.
During that period, he added, the camel was considered to be the “best, most expensive and fastest” animal.
“You must understand... (the Mercedes-Benz cars) are not for showing off or luxury.
“If you had money, would you not use a Merc? This is the same, not for luxury. The cars belong to the state government, you must understand,” he added.
Citing another example, he noted how a governor after the time of Prophet Muhammad was accused of leading a lavish lifestyle.
When summoned for an explanation, he said, the governor admitted to the caliph that he lived in a mansion and wore expensive clothes.
However, he said, the governor explained that he needed to do so because he lived in a neighbourhood comprising Roman and Persian elites.
Therefore, he added, the governor needed to display the greatness of a Muslim leader as well.
The Mercedes-Benz controversy surfaced in the wake of PAS leaders criticising the Pakatan Harapan government's proposal to purchase Toyota Vellfire vehicles for ministers and senior government officials.
However, on Jan 9, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said ministers would continue to use Proton Perdana cars as official vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Kelantan Menteri Besar’s Office also denied the suggestion that it had used the federal government’s special allocation to purchase the Mercedes-Benz cars.