Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 30th July 2008: 

Abdullah asked to give cost-benefit report of directive to use Proton Perdana as official car by national and state governments on first day of budget meeting of Parliament on August 18

I have asked the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to give a cost-benefit report of the directive to use Proton Perdana as the official car for both the national and state governments on the first day of budget meeting of Parliament on August 18.

Abdullah is also asked to detail the problems encountered by all governments, national and state, in complying with the directive and whether Proton Perdana is a suitable vehicle compared to other makes.

Less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister issued the Cabinet edict last Friday that the Terengganu executive councillors cannot use the Mercedes E200 Kompressors and must use back the Proton Perdana V6 Executives, reserving the new Mercedes to be used only by VVIPs, Abdullah was given a public "slap-in-the-face" by one of the Terengganu Excos who publicly defied the directive in the Prime Minister's presence.

This was reported by the media, although it was not spelt out so starkly.

This happened at the Malaysia Floral Fest 2008 opening at Dataran Bandaraya in Johor Baru the very next day, which was attended by the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Prime Minister.

It was reported that this was the first time that the Malaysian floral fest had an international flavour with the participation of two foreign teams the Suzhou Tourism Bureau of China and the Macau Government Tourist Office.

The first float to appear in the parade was from Terengganu, themed "Nature is Terengganu's Greatest Heritage", which won the grand Premier Trophy for its marine theme with clown fish, anemones, razor fish and seahorse model.

Representing Terengganu at the floral fest was the state exco for tourism, culture, arts and heritage Datuk Za'abar Mohd Adib, whose gleaming new Mercedes-Benz TAM 28 stole the show and was reported in photograph on the front page of the Sunday Star when it should be in its Kuala Terengganu garage.

My immediate thought when reading the floral fest report was that there was no need for Terengganu to feature any float to grap the Premier Trophy, as all that was needed to wow the crowd would be to exhibit the Mercedes E200 Kompressor with its "haram" use.

The Prime Minister could not be unaware that his leadership and authority as Prime Minister was openly challenged at the Malaysia Floral Fest last Saturday as his directive that the Terengganu Excos cannot use the new Mercedes was publicly defied at the Johor Baru capital.

What did he do?

Even now, the directive that the Terengganu Excos cannot use the new Mercedes is observed only in the breach!

Proton Holdings managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir had protested that the Perdana V6 had been maligned, claiming that the nationwide average maintenance cost of a Perdana V6 was RM2,373 annually compared with RM3,600 for a Mercedes.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said had said that the state spent RM1.071 million since 2004 on the maintenance of its Perdanas.

Zainal Abidin said Proton's records showed that Terengganu had been billed only RM78,048.68 by its authorized service centres. The balance of RM993,620.14 or 93% was spent on 16 Perdana V6 cars serviced by unauthorized centres.

Before this, Ahmad Said had rubbished as "nonsense" Zainal Abidin's earlier claim that the service cost averaged RM542 for Terengganu's 35 Proton Perdanas.

The problem of atrociously high maintenance cost of Proton Perdanas is not unique to Terengganu state government but is of epidemic proportion for all states.

For instance, Zainal Abidin's claim that a Perdana gearbox cost about RM3,000 is contradicted in Selangor, where the Perdana of Selangor State Exco for Local Government, Ronnie Liu was charged RM23,000 to replace the gear box just three weeks ago.

It is reported today that five people, including two workshop managers, have been arrested by the Anti-Corruption Agency in connection with the probe into the high maintenance cost of Proton Perdana V6 Executive cars in Terengganu.

As this is a national problem, is the ACA conducting a nation-wide investigation into the high maintenance costs for all national and state governments?

Let the Prime Minister give a comprehensive report on the Proton Perdana imbroglio in the first day of the budget parliamentary meeting on August 18.

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