(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Bukit Jalil Stadium has been booked for the mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally on Friday, February 26, 1999 at 8 p.m. and RM2,500 deposit has been paid to the stadium authorities.
Application to the police for a permit for the anti-toll protest public rally at the Bukit Jalil Stadium will be submitted today and I cannot think of any reason for the police to reject the issue of a permit for the holding of a peaceful and orderly public rally in a country which professes democracy for the people to send a clear and unmistakable message to the government about their strong feelings against unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls.
I call on Malaysians throughout the country who feel that the time has
come for them to join other like-minded Malaysians to express their opposition
to unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls to keep a special
date on February 26 by attending the Bukit Jalil Stadium anti-toll
protest public rally and to give a clarion support to the "Five Noes, Two
Yes" demand of the Coalition Against Toll, viz:
In the last two Sundays, thousands of people had protested peacefully at the various toll plazas in the country to demand accountability, transparency, fair play and justice in the highway privatisation programme, but toll-road operators, comfortably cocooned in their highly lucrative but one-sided toll concessions, have refused to heed the voices of the motorists and the general public.
This is why there has been no response either by Kamunting Corporation
Bhd or the government to attempt to justify the RM250 million toll injustice
at Jalan Kuching in Kuala Lumpur, where motorists have to continue to pay
the 50 sen toll for another seven years from 1996 to 2003 although
the original nine-year toll concession expired in January 1996.
This is also the reason why PLUS, the North-South Expressway concessionaire, has been playing a hide-and-seek game with the Coalition Against Toll (CAT).
CAT had wanted to send a delegation to PLUS headquarters on January 29 to meet the PLUS Chairman, Managing Director and other top officials to seek a full explanation about the North-South Expressway tolls and privatisation.
We were asked to put off the visit to the following week as the top PLUS management had a meeting with Malaysian Highway Authority officials which had been scheduled earlier.
For the whole of last week and this week, PLUS has been evading an appointment with CAT, and such a "hide-and-seek" ploy does not speak well for the social responsibility of a company which is the cash cow of United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) and Renong.
I call on PLUS to stop such "hide-and-seek" tactics and to state publicly whether it wants to meet the CAT or not.
It is because of such stubborn refusal by the toll-road companies to observe the principles of accountability, transparency, responsibility and good corporate governance that the people from all over the country should ensure that the mammoth anti-toll protest public rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium on February 26 is a great success with 10,000 or even 20,000 turn-out.
The anti-toll protest public rally will be addressed by representatives of political parties and NGOs who are members of CAT. As the issue of unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls is not a political issue but a people's issue which should transcend party politics, CAT will also extend invitations to the Barisan Nasional component parties to send their leaders to address the public rally.
CAT had its third meeting in Petaling Jaya yesterday and reviewed last Sunday's nation-wide toll plazas protests and decided to continue with the Sunday nation-wide toll plazas protest for at least the next two Sundays, i.e. February 14 and 21. It also decided to focus on the North-South Expressway (NSE) for the next two Sundays, i.e. the Sungei Besi Toll Plaza at 9 a.m. and Damansara Toll Plaza at 10.30 a.m.