Abdullah must break his silence on Samy Vellu’s threat not to re-open MRR2
flyover in three months if there is ACA investigation to nip in the bud
disturbing signs that the unprecedented Barisan Nasional nine-tenth
parliamentary majority is spawning a new round of arrogance and abuse of
power less than six months after the recent general election
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must break his silence on the threat by the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu not to re-open the 1.7 km flyover along the Middle Ring Road Two (MRR2) in three months if there is Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigation to nip in the bud disturbing signs that the unprecedented Barisan Nasional nine-tenth parliamentary majority is spawning a new round of arrogance and abuse of power less than six months after the recent general election.
It is a matter of grave concern to all astute observers of the Malaysian political scene that there is a growing attitude among Barisan Nasional leaders in power to regard their unprecedented general election victory as a mandate and even blank cheque for all their actions, decisions and policies, accompanied by a most undemocratic and people-unfriendly “take it or leave it” attitude.
Abdullah must make it clear that he does not countenance his Cabinet Ministers showing utter contempt for their public duties and the public interest as to issue threats that the MRR2 flyover will not be re-opened in three months if the ACA conducts investigation into any wrongdoing in the MRR2 project, whether in award of contract, design, construction or supervision – and his insistence that his Cabinet Ministers are servants and not masters of the people and must always be humble, responsible and accountable.
This is why Abdullah must publicly overrule Samy Vellu by giving an assurance that ACA investigation into the MRR2 project will not affect the government’s commitment to re-open the MRR2 flyover in the shortest possible time.
Samy Vellu had never dared to utter the threat to “down tools” if there was any ACA investigation when he was Minister during the 22-year premiership of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and he should not be allowed to get away scot-free with such a threat under Abdullah’s premiership.
If Abdullah does not reprimand and get Samy Vellu to retract and apologise for his threat not to re-open the MRR2 flyover in three months if there is ACA investigation, a most deplorable example would have been set, sparking the first serious test of Abdullah’s leadership as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
It is also most deplorable that after issuing such a threat, Samy Vellu is trying to gag all public debate and discussion on the MRR2 cracks. The Berita Harian today, which quoted him as assuring full co-operation with the ACA, reported:
“Beliau juga meminta semua pihak yang berkepentingan supaya tidak membuat ulasan kerana perkara itu sedang disiasat BPR.”
ACA investigation into MRR2 project is not a justification for a clampdown and censorship of public debate as to why the MRR2 flyover could become a threat to public safety in less than two years of its completion and what remedial action should be taken to end the daily hardships and inconvenience of tens of thousands of commuters after the expenditure of some RM240 million public funds.
It is most disturbing that Samy Vellu is acting as if he is the Minister for Bumi Hiway, the contractor for the MRR2, instead of being Minister for 25 million Malaysians, as he is more protective of the former’s interests than the latter’s rights.
This is the only explanation for his protective stance for Bumi Hiway after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, saying that the contractor might not be able to afford the RM20 million repairs – when two days earlier, he had said that the contractor had been told to repair the damage in three months and bear the costs.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak confessed that the government had in the past entered into privatization contracts which were “lopsided and shortchanged the public”. Is the RM238 million contract for Package 11 of the MRR2, covering the cracked flyover between Kepong and Selayang, one such “lopsided” contract which “shortchanged the public”?
New Straits Times today reported that the Ministry of Works has appointed a company, Sealcon Specialist Services, which specialize in sealing cracks, and that the company had already carried out repairs on 15 of the 33 pillars and beams of the cracked flyover in the past five days. Is the company using the “space-age carbon-fibre pre-stressed trusses” which he had announced on Wednesday would be used to repair the pillars, beams and girders of the flyover, as they purportedly having “a tensile strength five times stronger than that of steel”?
Samy Vellu is giving the impression the repair work for the MRR2 flyover is very simple and straightforward, and from the speed achieved so far, would not even require the three months mentioned by him. Questions have been raised about the reliability of this “space-age carbon-fibre pre-stressed trusses” on internet blogs, which should be answered by the Ministry.
Up to now, Malaysians still do not have a full and proper picture about the MRR2 flyover cracks. As two consultants, one from Australia by the contractor and a consultant from Germany appointed by the Public Works Department, have come out with different findings about the MRR2 flyover cracks, how could there be public confidence about the repair work undertaken in the past five days?
The public doubts and queries should be set to rest with the publication of a full and chronological account of the MRR2 flyover cracks, which should include the release of the different findings of the two consultants.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman