Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic), said he had no need for a big luxury jet during his tenure but felt the current government may have more funds and as such, was in a position to indulge in such luxuries.
Dr Mahathir said during his 22 years as prime minister, he had even downgraded his jet during the early years of his tenure when there was a slump in the economy.
"In 1981, I inherited a Boeing 737 from the previous PM. He had problems travelling so I can understand why he has to have a big plane.
"I used the plane for a short while and I asked them what is the cost. They told me it will cost the government RM2 million a year. Then we sold the plane, I need a small plane. So it was reduced to a Challenger," he told reporters after being interviewed in conjunction with his 10 years of retirement.
Last year, the Prime Minister’s Department told Parliament that Putrajaya now owns at least seven planes, including a Boeing Business Jet.
The aircraft are for use by VVIPs including the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the prime minister. They comprised a Falcon, Global Express, Boeing Business Jet, Blackhawk, two Augustas and a Fokker F28.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim last year told the Parliament in 2013 that Putrajaya spent RM14.95 million for fuel and RM160.08 million for maintenance of the jets.
Dr Mahathir remarked that the small fleet of planes should not be an issue today.
"The government is much richer than during my time, then maybe they should upgrade" he said.
Putrajaya's jets attracted the attention of pro-Umno bloggers last week who demanded to know if Najib's two luxury jets are in service, as an Airbus ACJ320 was reportedly leased to the government.
Putrajaya replied that the lease of the Airbus ACJ320, which began on February 1, 2013, ended on December 31 last year. It said the lease was necessary as the government faced a shortage of jets. –
January 9, 2014.