Guan Eng’s Mercedes Benz tragedy a reflection of Pakatan

Chang Teck Peng

Chang Teck Peng, The Ant Daily

The human nature is not clear cut, and does not operate on a “black or white” scenario; for example, if someone had a very difficult beginning and struck his fortune one day, he could either continue to live a frugal life, knowing how difficult it is to earn money, or he would spend it luxuriously as a way to compensate for his years of living in poverty. As long as his money did not come from committing crimes or oppressing others who are financially strapped, how he spends it is his own private affair.

However, politicians are the exception. No matter what injustice one has faced, whether it be suffering from political persecution or discrimination, once one had held power, one cannot be using “public funds” as an excuse to compensate for your previous shortcomings. The moral demand for those in power is not so low that the people only want those in power to not commit any crimes. Matters labelled as legal or illegal are not always logical or right.

For more than half a century under Barisan Nasional’s governance, there were plenty of “legal” financial scandals, such as government agencies procuring items at highly inflated prices. But the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission viewed the actions as just overpaying for items, and not a form of corruption. This is just one example to illustrate that “legal” practices are not necessarily correct.

Pakatan Rakyat parties, as the opposition, were always quick to condemn such behaviour to their heart’s content. However, after holding power in 2008, and gaining even stronger support in 2013, it seems that power has gone to their head. They not only forgot their previous criticisms against BN, but they also used lame excuses like “BN used to also practise this” and “these are regulations previously laid down by BN” to escape accountability.

The most recent case in point involved the DAP-led Penang state government. After switching official cars to Toyota Camrys just two months ago, its Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng changed his official car again, and “upgraded” to the Mercedes-Benz S300L, which was worth RM660,000 (but bought at RM270,000 after tax exemption and a discount).