PLUS’ “overstaying fine” to deal with toll cheats “a cure worse than disease” highlighting the dangers of unfair and unaccountable privatization – which must be checked with the immediate publication of North-South Expressway concession for public scrutiny
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): Works Minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu’s directive to PLUS Expressways Bhd to immediately stop imposing time-limit fines on motorists who take longer than usual to make their trips on the North-South Expressway (NSE) is to be welcomed although such an arbitrary and illegal penalty should not have been allowed to be imposed by a privatization entity in the past four days.
The PLUS “overstaying fine” to deal with toll cheats is “a cure worse than disease” for three reasons:
If Samy Vellu had not stopped PLUS from imposing its arbitrary and illegal “overstaying fine” on NSE, he would undoubtedly be the common target of attack of all Members of Parliament, both Barisan Nasional and Opposition, in the next Parliamentary meeting in March, just as he was the common target of criticism of all MPs in the October meeting of Parliament last year over the series of public works scandals involving schools, hospitals, highways and public projects.
Samy Vellu should learn the proper lesson from the public uproar over PLUS’ arbitrary and illegal “overstaying fine” on the NSE – by securing Cabinet approval on Wednesday to make public the NSE privatization contract to subject it to public scrutiny, as there can be no reason why after 16 years since it was signed in 1988, there could be any legitimate reason to continue to keep the NSE concession as an “official secret” protected by the Official Secrets Act.
DAP MPs will demand at the next parliamentary meeting in March that the North-South Expressway concession and all privatization contracts should be tabled in Parliament and made public, and we will seek the support of all other MPs, whether Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternative, for this move towards greater accountability, transparency and good governance, in keeping with the promise by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to lead an efficient, accountable and trustworthy government.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman