Malaysia's government drew flak Thursday after admitting it spent 1.68 million dollars a year on the prime minister's sprawling residence in the administrative capital Putrajaya.
Responding to an opposition query, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said 6.01 million ringgit (1.68 million dollars) was paid annually to state-linked developer Putrajaya Holdings for the residence's rental and upkeep.
It costs another 3.4 million ringgit a year to maintain the deputy premier's residence.
Known as the the Seri Perdana complex, the premier's sprawling residence was built by former leader Mahathir Mohamad, who in 1999 was its first tenant.
The buildings are spread over 16 hectares in the centre of Putrajaya which lies south of Kuala Lumpur, comprising three blocks which include a reception area, banquet facilities and a residence.
Abdullah lives in the complex with his wife, daughter and son-in-law and their children.
"It is wasteful to spend so much money on renting the prime minister's house when the country is facing such tough times," said opposition parliamentarian Hatta Ramli from the Islamic party PAS.
"Even though the money is going back to a government-linked company, this should not be the case as the government should really own the building the prime minister occupies," he told AFP.
"What happens if the prime minister somehow gets evicted?"
Chief minister of opposition-controlled Penang state Lim Guan Eng questioned the payment of rent to Putrajaya Holdings.
"We can understand paying maintenance, but rental does not make sense," he told AFP.
"This also begs the question as to who are the directors of the company and who gets all the profit made by the company."
Putrajaya Holding's main shareholders are national energy firm Petronas, a state-owned trust fund and government investment arm Khazanah.
Agence France-Presse - 12/11/2008 9:45 AM GMT