Double shame for Samy Vellu – as Works Minister and the Cabinet Minister chiefly responsible for the original North-South Expressway privatization negotiations 17 years ago who does not know that the rights of generations of Malaysians have been signed away to PLUS including the power to impose arbitrary and unfair “overstaying” fines
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Wednesday): Double shame for Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu –as the Works Minister and the Cabinet Minister chiefly responsible for the original North-South Expressway (NSE) privatization negotiations 17 years ago who does not know that the rights of generations of Malaysians have been signed away to PLUS including the power to impose arbitrary and unfair “overstaying” fines.
On Monday, PLUS managing director Datuk Idrose Mohamed asserted the right and power of PLUS, under the secretive North-South Expressway concession agreement, to impose arbitrary and unfair fines on motorists for overstaying in the NSE.
Idrose said: “Under the agreement, we have the right to operate and manage toll collection along the highways and the exercise to detect and curb fraudulent toll transactions is part of efforts to safeguard the integrity of the collection system.”
Sin Chew Daily today quoted PLUS corporate communications assistant general manager Khalilah Mohd Talha stating that PLUS would be re-imposing its “overstaying” fine for NSE motorists to deal with toll cheats, as PLUS is legally entitled under the NSE concession agreement to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose such a penalty.
The PLUS position is an open slap in the face of Samy, directly contradicting his stand reiterated to the press at the closing of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on Infrastructure Development at Putrajaya yesterday that PLUS does not have the legal powers to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose the “overstaying fines” without first referring to his Ministry or the Malaysian Highways Authority.
Can the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail, who has access to the NSE concession agreement and is the legal adviser to the Federal Government, clarify who is right –PLUS or Samy Vellu – as to whether PLUS has the legal right to impose arbitrary and unfair NSE “overstaying fines”?
DAP leaders had right from the very beginning in 1987 opposed the unfair NSE privatization for its lack of accountability and transparency – landing Karpal Singh, my lawyer in the landmark case challenging the legality of the NSE privatization, and myself in Kamunting Detention Centre under the Internal Security Act during the Operation Lalang mass arrests in October 1987.
DAP objections to the unfair NSE privatization for nearly two decades have been fully vindicated, for at the special Parliamentary sitting last week on the Constitution Amendment Bill 2004 on water federalization and privatization, one Barisan Nasional MP after another warned the government not to repeat the colossal blunders of the unfair NSE privatization. BN MPs described the NSE privatization, with its recent 10 per cent toll hike completely in disregard of the objections of the NSE users, as having “mortgaged” the rights and interests of the Malaysian people and future generations.
This was why during the winding-up of the Constitution Amendment Bill debate by the Minister for Energy, Works and Communications, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik last Tuesday, I had described the NSE as “the mother of all unfair privatizations – in fact piratisation – in Malaysia”, leading to a blow-up by Samy Vellu who was present in the House.
Samy’s ignorance of PLUS claim that it has been given the legal right and power under the NSE concession to impose arbitrary and unfair “overstaying fines” on NSE motorists has again proved me right in my critique of the NSE privatization and concession.
The only amend Samy can make for all his past sins for his role in the NSE privatization is to get the whole NSE concession agreement declassified and posted on his Ministry’s website so that they could be accessed and studied by the Malaysian public and NSE users.
Otherwise, Samy should resign as Works Minister for the double blot of not knowing that the rights of Malaysians and future generations had been signed away in the NSE concession 17 years ago, although he is currently the Works Minister and the Cabinet Member chiefly responsible for the NSE concession negotiations in 1987.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman