GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today apologised to the people of the state after admitting that the purchase of his new official Mercedes S560e was not appropriate at a time when the country was facing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Chow, who is also Padang Kota assemblyman, said he took full responsibility for the purchase of the 2019 model car worth about RM458,000.
He said he would be more careful in making decisions involving purchases, especially when the people are facing difficult times like now.
“The car for the chief minister was bought according to the proper administrative process and I take note of the views of all parties on the issue.
“I also admit it is a lesson to me and the state government as the purchase has offended the people and caused them to worry.
“However, as the chief minister, if anyone is offended and feels it is not timely, even if there is a need, it can be postponed due to the pandemic.
“I bear the ultimate responsibility in this issue,” he told reporters after attending a One Hope Charity donation event at the Padang Kota Service Centre here today.
On Thursday, the Penang state secretary’s office said the chief minister had been given a new official car, a Mercedes S560e, to replace the previous Mercedes S300L bought in 2013.
The purchase of the new official car was criticised by many parties, including Gerakan, which asked the state government not to spend extravagantly, especially on a new official car for the chief minister.
Responding to media questions regarding the concerns of some quarters that the state government had used public funds to buy the car, Chow said this was not true and the Penang government was ready with funds in case the movement control order (MCO) was implemented again.
“It is far-fetched (using the people’s money to buy a new official car). Before this issue was triggered, I had directed excos and state financial officers to be ready to provide aid packages if the government reinforced the MCO,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chow said the Penang state government was ready to consider using a school as a low-risk quarantine centre if the number of Covid-19 patients increased in the state.
“But it will all depend on the approval of the Penang state Health Department. Maybe hotels can also be used but it will be quite expensive,” he said.
Earlier at the event, One Hope Charity’s adviser R Arunasalam presented 4,200 food baskets worth RM300 each to Chow to be donated to needy families.
Chow said the assistance, involving an allocation of RM1.26 million, was handed over to 40 state assembly constituencies in Penang and thanked the group, which had been very active and caring.