Urgent fax to PLUS Chairman asking North-South Expressway concessionaire to agree to two-month deferment of 10% NSE toll hike on January 1 and to waive the legal right to claim compensation


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): I have this morning sent an urgent fax to the Chairman of PLUS Expressways Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, asking the North-South Expressway (NSE) concessionaire to agree to a two-month deferment of the 10% NSE toll hike from 1.1.2005 and to waive its right to claim compensation, so as to allow for the fullest and the most comprehensive study by Members of Parliament, consumer organizations, trade unions and the  civil society on the far-reaching socio-economic implications of repeated NSE toll hikes. 

In my fax, I drew the attention of the PLUS Chairman to the united objection of Members of Parliament across-the-board, Barisan Nasional and Opposition, to the latest 10% NSE toll hike scheduled to come into effect on January 1, and the urgent need for PLUS to respond positively as a responsible corporate citizen in the process to convince the nation as a whole and Parliament in particular that the 40-year NSE concession is not a  lopsided “cash cow” for PLUS at the expense of two generations of Malaysian motorists. 

I also sought a meeting for Members of Parliament with PLUS officials on the 10% NSE toll hike and the NSE concession. 

I hope to get a positive response from PLUS Expressway, as the cost of two-month deferment of the 10% hike is only in the region of RM25.6 million - based on Samy Vellu’s statement that if the toll rates are not increased, the government would have to pay RM154 million a year to PLUS – which is a mere drop in the ocean of  some RM10 billion in toll revenue which PLUS had collected from NSE since the start of its operation. 

It is most regrettable that up to now, the only  reason the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu can give for the Cabinet decision upholding the 10% NSE toll hike on January 1 is that the government is contractually bound by the NSE concession or it  would have to pay RM38 billion in compensation to PLUS over the next 33 years. 

Malaysians are entitled to full and frank answer to two questions: 

  • Firstly, why did the government and Samy Vellu in particular as the Minister in charge of highways and the person responsible for negotiating and signing not only the original NSE concession but the subsequent variations, agree to such an unfair, oppressive and lop-sided contract; and
  • Secondly, whether there is absolutely  no way to cancel the 10% toll hike and vary the  NSE concession without attracting the penalty of RM38 billion compensation for the next 33 years!

I for one believe there must be ways  to mitigate the oppressive terms of the NSE concession to protect the rights and interests of two generations of Malaysians and DAP leaders and lawyers are prepared to co-operate fully  with the Works Ministry and the Cabinet by providing free legal and consultancy services to find a way out of the NSE concession for the Malaysian people. 

I am still waiting for Samy Vellu to justify his warning that the government would have to pay RM38 billion in compensation to PLUS over the next 33 years if the 10% NSE toll hike is not honoured on 1.1.2005, for two reasons: 

  • Firstly, as Samy Vellu has said that the government will have to pay PLUS RM154 million a year in compensation for not raising the toll charges by 10 per cent, the grand toll for 33 years does not add up to RM38 billion but RM5 billion.
  • Secondly, why must compensation be paid to PLUS for the next 33 years till 2038, when the 30-year NSE concession which started in May 1988  is to end in 2030 after a 12-year extension in 1999?  With another 25 years to run  for the concession, at the compensation rate of RM154 million a year, the total compensation liable till the end of the concession is  RM3.85 billion – one tenth of Samy Vellu’s  hyperbolic claim of RM38 billion! 

If the claim of  RM38 billion compensation over the next 33 years is  wrong and baseless  both in regard to the monetary quantum and the time span, Samy Vellu should have the responsibility and humility to publicly apologise for misleading the public. Alternatively,  he should justify these claims and  explain why he could be a party to a highway concession so palpably and outrageously unfair and lop-sided against the rights and interests of two generations of Malaysian motorists!


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman