Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 26th July 2008: 

Terengganu Mercedes only for VVIPs? transforming a controversy into a pure fiasco

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has transformed the Terengganu Proton Perdana V6 Executive/Mercedes E200 Kompressor controversy into a pure fiasco.

What is the solution? The 14 RM245,000 Mercedes E200 Kompressors purchased by the Terengganu government for RM3.43 million are to be used only by VVIPs "foreign dignitaries" for "major functions" - while the State Excos must continue to use the fleet of 16 RM130,000 Proton Perdana V6 Executives bought in 2004.

Reason? This is from Abdullah's own words, explaining the Cabinet decision: "Since the cars have been bought and to sell them would only result in a loss, all of them must be used for state guests or dignitaries.

"This is the decision, nothing more, nothing less."

Wouldn't this ridiculous and laughable solution result in greater losses to the public coffers?

Who are the VVIPs or "foreign dignitaries for major functions" who would qualify to be chaperoned around the state in the 14 Mercedes E200 Kompressors?

Would there be 14 or 28 or 42 such "VVIPs" visiting Terengganu per year? Can the people of Terengganu and Malaysia be informed of such VVIPs who had visited Terengganu each year since 2004, or will the 14 Mercedes E200 Kompressors go into the Guinness Book of Records as the most garaged and unused Mercedes Kompressors in the world?

Mingguan Malaysia of 20th July 2008 had reported that the 14 Mercedes E200 Kompressors for the 10 Excos, the State Speaker, State Secretary, State Legal Adviser and State Financial Officer had already been delivered, as they had been seen as being used several Excos and the State Secretary at official functions.

Are all the State Excos, Speaker, State Secretary, State Legal Adviser and State Financial Officer l to return the 14 Mercedes Kompressors to the state garage and to take back their old Proton Perdana V6 Executives?

The front-page headline report of Utusan Malaysia of 23rd July quoted the Mentri Besar's office as alleging that the maintenance costs for Proton Perdana V6 Executives had totalled as much as RM132,357.36 to RM175,229.97 each for the fleet bought in 2004.

The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has started to probe into the high costs of maintenance of the 16 Proton Perdana V6 Executives, and rightly so, and I will ask for a report on the outcome of these ACA investigations when Parliament reconvenes on August 18 next month.

What is noteworthy is that the ACA investigations into the Terengganu Exco Proton/Mercedes imbroglio has prompted a retort from the Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said why the authorities had not investigated into the other high-profile projects in Terengganu like the prestigious Monsoon Cup sailing event and the Islamic Civilisation Park.

Ahmad is indeed very right in his retort.

The Prime Minister should answer this pertinent rebuttal from the Terengganu Mentri Besar in Parliament next month.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor