(Penang, Tuesday): The Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has belittled and insulted the overwhelming majority of Malaysians when he said yesterday that those protesting against the increase in toll charges were people who seldom or do not use the highways.
He said those who used the highways regularly did not have problems with the increase.
He said: “Those protesting are only a few…normally about 20 or 30 people and they are from the opposition parties.
“They do not use the highways. After the protests they sit at the nearby restaurants drinking coffee or eating and then they go back. If they are really protesting they should stand there all day.
“These people have no work or go to work late.”
Samy Vellu must be living in a dreamworld of his own, not to know that several thousands of people throughout the country in the past three weeks had responded to the nation-wide toll plazas protests against unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls called by the Coalition Against Toll (CAT).
It is clear that Samy Vellu has been in the Cabinet for too long and overstayed in his welcome among the people.
It is true that the nation-wide toll plazas protests last Sunday were generally on a smaller scale than the two previous Sundays, but this was because of its proximity to the Chinese New Year holidays.
I call on Malaysians to come out in even greater numbers next Sunday for the fourth nation-wide toll plazas protests to make a special point to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Works Minister and the Cabinet about the injustices of unfair highway tolls and toll increases.
If Samy Vellu is so sure that only a handful of people in the Opposition opposed unfair highway tolls and unfair toll rate increases, I challenge him to get Cabinet approval to hold a national referendum to ascertain whether Malaysians agree to the unfair highway tolls and unfair toll increases.
Samy Vellu should realise that is the right not only of motorists who are directly affected to protest against the unfair toll rates and unfair toll increases but all Malaysians including those who do not use the highways, as they are also victims of unfair highway privatisation as a result of RM240 million compensation the government has paid to highway toll concessionaires from the taxpayers’ pockets.
Samy Vellu should attend the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally organised by the Coalition Against Toll at Bukit Jalil Stadium on February 26, where a special seat has been reserved for him on the stage.
I propose to ask the 20,000 to 30,000 people from all over the country who will attend the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally to demand the holding of a national referendum so that Works Minister and the Cabinet can understand the people’s strong feelings on the issue of unfair highway tolls and unfair toll increases.