Every now and then there will be news of state governments purchasing overly priced tin cans on wheels, leaving taxpayers’ wondering if the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Here are some examples.
The Penang government, last year, purchased 15 new Toyota Camry 2.5 CBU, replacing the previous CKD model. State financial officer Datuk Sarul Bahiyah Abu said that each car was priced at RM184,912.50, and the state obtained a discount of RM4,990.
There was a public outcry when then Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng got a Mercedes-Benz S300L in 2014.
The Kelantan state government, not wanting to be left out in this race of “Who Buys The Most Expensive Vehicle”, purchased 14 new Mercedes Benz earlier this year. One of them is the premium S450 L AMG which is being used by Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob.
The justification: Their cars were 10 years old and that it was for “security purposes”.
It remains unclear what threat politicians in Kelantan face but blood will certainly boil when German-made luxury vehicles ferrying politicians are seen on the roads of the nation’s poorest state.
And the latest is Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu who has been given an upgrade: from a Toyota Camry to a Lexus ES sedan.
Faizal, who spoke to reporters on Wednesday after visiting SMJK Sam Tet was quoted as saying: “The car was originally priced at about RM300,000, and we got it for about RM200,000.”
Lexus giving a RM100,000 discount just for one car is generous indeed.
But still, RM200,000 was spent on a vehicle that Ahmad Faizal is merely going to be strapped in at the back seat.
The same money could be better spent on repairing or replacing the aging Land Rover Defenders at Maxwell Hill in Taiping – a tourist spot that can offer plenty of returns.
There is the justification that politicians travel a lot, thus the need for a comfortable ride. If that’s the case, then they should purchase their own vehicle and not expect taxpayers to pay for their comfort.
Maintenance is an issue, some claim. Luxury vehicles will also suffer wear and tear and repairs come with a hefty price. Imagine driving a Mercedes Benz or even a Lexus on bumpy roads in Kelantan or Perak. Not all roads in those states are smooth and well-tarred.
Journalists travel a lot too and they do so in a compact car or a mid-sized sedan. If policemen in some parts of the country can spend long hours patrolling in a Perodua Kancil or Axia, why not politicians?
And given the current economic situation, the last thing politicians should do is to further annoy the rakyat. People are losing jobs while businesses remain unsure of the future. The ringgit is pathetic against the US dollar.
Seeing policymakers going around in big cars will not help cushion the pain.
So it’s best state governments start purchasing the Perodua Axia. It’s small, easy to park and suited for all kinds of terrain. Slightly underpowered but for about RM30,000 the car comes with 260-litre boot space, spacious legroom, plenty of cup holders and flexible seats.
It’s a local brand too.
If an Axia is not good enough, then perhaps a 4×4 pickup truck would do the trick. It’s less than RM100,000, equally comfortable (best to sit in the front passenger seat) and is a great vehicle for political campaigning or helping communities during floods.
If politicians rubbish the idea of being chauffeured in an Axia, then they are belittling the nurses, teachers and policemen who commute daily in such a vehicle. After all, being a politician isn’t exactly a classy job and less adored compared to our brave frontliners and noble educators.
If they call it a “perk”, the only perk politicians can proudly claim is the satisfaction people have when a right, and not a popular, decision is made.
Hopefully, this serves as a reminder before politicians continue to waste more taxpayers’ money to boost their egos.
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