(Kuala Lumpur, Friday): When visiting the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) today to study the alternative routes provided by the concession holder, Litrak, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu announced that the new toll rate increases approved by the Cabinet at four expressways, namely North-South Expressway (PLUS), the Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas), the Kulim-Butterworth Expressway and the Projek Expressway Lingkaran Tengah (Elite) would be introduced on March 1, in utter disregard of the nation-wide protests against unfair highway tolls.
It is no wonder that some residents made clear their displeasure at the unfair highway tolls when Samy Vellu passed a foodstall in Taman Seri Puchong and was asked mockingly whether he was there to build a toll plaza, resulting in a Ministerial fit of temper and shouting match, with Samy Vellu calling the resident "stupid" and to shut his mouth!
I commend this resident for his public-spiritedness for speaking up what is in the heart of Malaysians about the unfairness and oppressiveness of the highway privatisation programme, and I call on all Malaysians to emulate his example and to raise their displeasure and protest about unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls every time they meet Samy Vellu and all other Cabinet Ministers.
Only in this way can the Cabinet Ministers keep their feet on the ground and realise the intensity of the opposition of the ordinary rakyat against unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls.
Samy Vellu can be quite an outspoken character. Today, for instance, he expressed dissatisfaction with the statement by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai yesterday that the police action was valid under the law in two police shoot-outs last October, where five persons including a eight-month pregnant woman, were killed in Balaikong, Kuala Lumpur in one instance, while in the other case six persons, including three Rela members one of whom was an MIC division youth chief, were shot dead in Tumpat.
I welcome this stand by Samy Vellu as I had told a media conference this morning that the DAP rejected such self-serving justification by Norian Mai of police shoot-outs and a trigger-happy police endangering the security and the lives of the innocent. I had also demanded the establishment of a second Royal Commission of Inquiry into such police lawlessness.
Samy Vellu said he would propose to the Cabinet the establisment of an independent commission of inquiry into the police shoot-outs, and I give him my full support.
However, he should also raise at the next meeting of Cabinet on February 24 the peope’s demand that the increase of toll rates at North-South Expressway and three other expressways should be rescinded until there is a full review of the unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls.
In the past two Sundays, thousands of people from all races, religions and political affiliations took part in the nation-wide toll plazas protests against unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls and I must commend them for conducting themselves in a peaceful, orderly and disciplined manner which demonstrate to the nation and the world that Malaysians can stand up for their democratic rights to protest against injustices but fully mindful of the need to help maintain peace and order.
The Cabinet should heed the clear message sent out
by thousands of Malaysians in the two nation-wide toll plazas protests
in the last two Sundays and to take four important decisions
at its next Cabinet meeting on February 24:
The nation-wide toll plazas protests every Sunday is the initiative of the Coaltion Against Toll (CAT) and the nation-wide protests will continue for the next two Sundays, with the focus in Klang Valley on Sunday, 14th February 1999 on the North-South Expressway toll plazas at Sungai Besi at 9 and Damansara at 10.30am.
On 26th February 1999, CAT is organising a mammoth anti-toll protest public rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium starting at 8 p.m. and a galaxy of political leaders and NGOs representatives, like Datin Seri Dr. Azizah Ismail, Fadzil Noor, Syed Husin Ali, Dr. Mohamad Nasir Hashim, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Rustam Sani, Jomo K.S., Tian Chua have been invited to speak to address the 20,000 to 30,000 people who should converge at the stadium from all corners of the country to express their strong opposition against unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls.
As the issue of unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls is an issue which concern all political parties, whether in government or opposition, I propose to invite leaders of Barisan Nasional component parties to speak at the Bukit Jalil Stadium anti-toll public rally and to guage the extent of public opposition on the issue.
I hope the Barisan Nasional leaders, whether Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu will respond positively to this invitation to the Bukit Jalil Stadium mammoth anti-toll protest public rally.
I see no reason why police permit should be refused for the mammoth anti-toll protest public rally as the MCA would be using the Bukit Jalil Stadium for its 50th anniversary party celebrations.