Lust for luxury, greed for money.
Before the Mercedes fiasco could cool down, the Kelantan state government was hit with another bombshell. After the state government rewarded themselves with 14 Mercedes-Benz, including a luxury Mercedes sedan – S450L AMG – a model with a retail price of RM699,888, it was exposed that the same elite PAS Islamist holy men had also gifted themselves with RM50,000 cash.
Kelantan, the poorest state (GDP per-capita) in Malaysia, but at the same time the state with the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in the country, was given a one-off allocation of RM400 million by Mahathir Mohamad. Seen as a special petroleum royalty, the sudden windfall was also seen as a “special gift” by PM Mahathir soliciting support from the PAS Islamist party.
Mahathir said it was up to the Kelantan how it likes to spend the RM400 million. The premier said – “They can do as they please. If they want to spend it unwisely, the people will punish them.” It appeared that besides buying the support of the PAS president Hadi Awang and his minions, the money was also given to poison the fake holy men who obviously could not resist their temptation and lust.
Apparently, 11 members of the Kelantan State Executive Council (known as the EXCO) and its 3 ex-officio members gifted themselves with a special payout of RM50,000 each. Call it whatever you like, but it was clearly a bonus for a bunch of incompetent executives who were clueless about lifting the state out of poverty. PAS has governed the state of Kelantan twice (1959–1977 and 1990–present).
When confronted, Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah tried to justify the mouth-watering special bonus – “Based on the state government’s income achievement, a special payment was made for last year. Maybe next year there won’t be any. We don’t always get this one-off allocation so we will use it for the benefit of the people.”
The special bonus to just a handful of elite PAS politicians had triggered displeasure among state civil servants, who received only RM1,000. But the burning question is this: what exactly was the mind-blogging achievement that they deserved a staggering RM50,000 cash each? In reality, they had done nothing. And Mohd Amar had spilled the beans, without him realising it.
Based on the deputy chief minister’s statement, the 14 top state officials greedily rewarded themselves after the sudden RM400 million windfall. It was not every year the PAS Islamist party gets the free cash, hence they were on cloud nine and happily grabbed a portion of the money out of lust and greed, never mind the state had to borrow money to pay the salary of its civil servants.
Naturally, people were furious because not only the Islamist holy men had cooked up a silly excuse on the purchase of a fleet of 14 Mercedes-Benz, they also pampered themselves with a cool RM50,000 pocket money. The Kelantan deputy chief minister’s desperate claims that the payout had nothing to do with the RM400 million, but because the state has a surplus (for the bonus).
But if indeed the state has so much extra money that it decided to reward its top brains with RM50,000 each, why did the state beg for loans from the federal government to pay the salary of its staffs in the first place? The contradictory excuses from the state government were both hilarious and hypocritical, not to mention an insult to the people’s intelligence.
After public uproars, Mohd Amar has a great new story. The cash, despite being deposited into the personal bank accounts of the 14 lucky top state leaders, were for temporary safekeeping and would be given to the people of Kelantan when the need arises. Seriously? Didn’t crooked ex-PM Najib use almost the same script when RM2.6 billion was discovered in his private bank accounts?
Why only 14 top officers were entrusted with RM50,000 each and not all of the 37 PAS state assemblymen? Is PAS trying to say that more than half of its members of the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly cannot be trusted? Exactly how does the genius PAS government plan to ensure transparency that the cash would be allocated fairly to the deserving poor people of Kelantan?
More importantly, do the 11 EXCO members and its 3 ex-officio members plan to declare the RM50,000 with the IRB (Internal Revenue Board) since the money is most likely taxable? Should not the money be channelled to a non-profit charity fund, for example? Yes, besides the taxman, the PAS fake holy men probably hadn’t a clue that they could be charged for money laundering.
However, the RM50,000 special bonus was not the only screw-up that PAS has twisted with a bigger lie. The Mercedes-Benz has also been given a new storyline. Initially, the same Kelantan Deputy Chief Minister Mohd Amar admitted that while the state was poor, the purchase of the 14 units of Mercedes was due to necessity, and not a luxury.
The biggest joke was the PAS Islamist government’s jaw-dropping argument that the maintenance cost of the Mercedes was lower than other brands, including Proton, Honda and Toyota. However, when they realised that Lexus and Toyota were the top two most reliable cars, while Benz was only ranked 17th spot behind Honda (15th), they burned the midnight oil to find a new excuse.
The latest reason for the purchase of the Mercedes-Benz is no longer low maintenance cost or reliability but safety and security. Yes, after PAS failed to counter accusations that some of the RM400 million was siphoned off to purchase the German-made Benz due to their leaders’ lust for style, status and luxury, they now argued that Mercedes was purchased as official cars for safety reason.
Does that mean Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and federal ministers and senior government officials, were risking their lives after choosing Proton Perdana as the official car? Clearly, if Toyota and Honda failed the Islamist party’s safety standard, the local-made Proton would be worse. But the amazing story didn’t end there.
The same bunch of PAS leaders who insisted of BMF (Buy Mercedes First) were the same people who had earlier criticised the federal government’s proposal to purchase a fleet of 32 units of Toyota Vellfire for ministers and Honda Accords for senior government officials to replace the ageing Proton Perdana and Toyota Camry.
The hypocrite PAS leaders had argued that it was morally wrong and a waste of taxpayers’ money for the federal government to buy Toyota Vellfire. But when it’s their turn, they now said a RM700,000 Mercedes-Benz is justifiable and not a waste of money. Using the same safety reason, can the federal government also argue that they want Mercedes-Benz instead of Proton Perdana? – Finance Twitter