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:
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:
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