The Hidden Reasons Government
Refuses To Abolish Toll Collections...
Under tremendous pressure from the people, especially after the humiliating defeat in the Cameron Highlands by-election, and the coming Semenyih by-election which does not look too promising, the Mahathir administration has finally agreed to re-look into one of the dozens of promises made during last May general election – abolishment of highway tolls.
Yesterday (Feb 25), Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced that his government is taking the initiative to fulfil its election promise to abolish toll collection – in stages – with the introduction of the “congestion charge”, to encourage people to use highways during non-peak hours. Of course, people have gotten angry because the government has insulted their intelligence.
People wanted tolls, existed for as long as one can remember, to be abolished or cancelled entirely, not to be replaced with another gimmick tax regime called “congestion charge”. Apparently, the new Pakatan Harapan government has begun talks with Gamuda Bhd to negotiate the acquisition of four highway concessions – LDP, SPRINT, KESAS and SMART Tunnel.
Upon successful takeover of the expressways – Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (SPRINT), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (KESAS) and SMART Tunnel – Mahathir said the existing toll would be abolished, but commuters will pay a “congestion charge” equivalent to the existing toll for six hours of “peak” period a day.
At “normal” or non-peak hours, commuters will enjoy 30% discounted rates as compared to existing toll rates, while it will be “free” for all during the “off-peak” period between 11pm and 5am. Naturally, the opposition, especially ex-PM Najib Razak, happily grabbed the golden opportunity and mocked that the only ones that would benefit from the off-peak charges are ghosts, drunkards, and sex workers.
However, Mahathir argued against the criticism of the odd-hour charges – “To cancel all the rates becomes too expensive. We need to buy the tolled road. When you buy, you need to raise money and service the loans that we raise. So we try to reduce the money we have to pay for acquiring highways that will go stage by stage and step by step.”
To be fair, Mahathir was not the first person who promised free tolls for all and sundry. The 93-year-old man had consistently said it’s not possible to have highways without the collection of toll, even after he was made the country’s 7th Prime Minister. In fact, he was against the toll-free highways pledge in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto, but played along thinking the coalition could not win.
Anwar Ibrahim, previously de-facto opposition leader and currently PM-in-waiting, was the guy who screamed at the top of his lungs about free highways for everyone during past election campaigns. But to be fair to him, highways without toll collections can actually be done – if the national coffers have RM383.3 billion of loose change to spare.
Yes, according to a 2010 study, the overall costs to take over all highways in the country are RM383.3 billion. In other words, had the crooked Najib Razak not burden the country with excessive borrowings, not to mention constant stealing and plundering, so much so that the external debts hit RM1 trillion mark, the people could indeed enjoy toll-free expressways today.
Last December, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng disclosed that the government would have to pay RM972.75 million in compensation to 21 highway concessionaires for them not to raise toll this year (2019). In other words, due to lopsided business deals, corruption, cronyism and policies, taxpayers’ money are being sucked to pay the highways’ tycoons and elites.
That was why Mahathir warned yesterday that even if commuters are not charged tolls, the government will still have to pay for it using taxpayers’ money. Concessionaires have loans to service and other bills to settle, they would argue. This means the concessionaires and the banks need to make profits first. Like it or not, the ordinary people, even if they don’t use the highways, are the losers.
Certain ethnicity may not like the truth, but the root cause of the toll-abolishing issue is “ketuanan Melayu”, the ideology of Malay supremacy espoused by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the party that had dominated the country’s politics for more than six decades, before they stunningly lost power on May 9th, 2018.
The NEP, designed to uplift the Malays, but soon became a means for UMNO to cement political support and an enrichment program for a selected few, is also responsible for the issue of abolishing highways toll today. Certain cronies and elites, even members of the royal house, were awarded contracts – without tender – to build expressways and given the privilege to milk the people in the form of toll collections.
Take for example the RM2.2 billion 50-km Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) project, which was awarded to Emrail Sdn Bhd and Zabima Engineering Sdn Bhd – both without any highway construction experience. It was a gift from the Najib regime to then-Chief Justice Zaki Azmi and UMNO lawyer Hafarizam Harun for their roles in snatching back the Perak state using illegal and despicable methods.
Another example – Haris Onn Hussein, the brother of former Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, possesses a 20.16% stake in Ekovest, a company awarded the contract to build the Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway (SPE) at a cost of RM3.738 billion with a concession period with the Government for 53½ years. That’s a cash cow the Hussein family can milk for half a century.
Heck, even Gamuda, the concessionaire whose four highway concessions – LDP, SPRINT, KESAS and SMART Tunnel – being taken over by Mahathir government is partly belonged to the Sultanate of Perak. Raja Eleena Raja Azlan Shah, the daughter of the late Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak, is the single largest shareholder of Gamuda – via her 7.5% stake in Generasi Setia (M) Sdn Berhad.
Clearly, RM383.3 billion to buy all the highways is a daylight robbery to enrich only a dozen of Malay elites. The problem with these bloodsucking concessionaires was the frequent revisions of the agreement and terms by the government to continue milking people’s hard-earned money. There’s a reason why Mahathir, as did his predecessor Najib, wanted the status quo to remain.
Whoever controls the government essentially controls the cash cows. Not only the lucrative highway business is a cash cow, it is the ultimate goose that lays the golden eggs. EPF, ASB, KWAP and Amanahraya trustees are some of major shareholders of LITRAK, the highway concessionaire which operates LDP and SPRINT and owned by Gamuda Group.
The second largest toll highway company, PROLINTAS Bhd, is owned by PNB (Perbadanan Nasional Berhad) via various funds such as Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) and Amanah Saham Wawasan (ASW). Even PLUS, the country’s largest highway concessionaire is now 51% owned by the government and 49% by EPF (Employees Provident Fund).
Another extremely lopsided project was the Maju Expressway (MEX), a 26km highway linking the city centre in Jalan Tun Razak to Putrajaya. The total project cost of MEX was RM1.32 billion, of which RM976.7 million was funded via government grants. Yet, despite Maju Holdings funding only 26% of the construction cost, crony Abu Sahid Mohamed was allowed to collect tolls for a period of 33 years ending Dec 6, 2037.
That’s right, government-linked companies, or G.L.C.s, tasked with representing and promoting bumiputera interests, are the primary shareholders of the so-called throat-cutting highway concessionaires, which happens to be the goose that lays the golden eggs. As of 2017, the GLCs controlled over 68,000 companies – directly and indirectly – and about 42% of local stock market capitalisation.
If the new government is sincere and serious about helping the ordinary commuters, they can bring down the concessionaires to their knees with a snap of a finger. Mahathir can give the green light to review unfair and lopsided deals, demanding existing terms be reviewed. If the greedy, arrogant and stubborn concessionaires refuse, the government can always introduce special taxes.
Hey, if the government can punish gamblers, smokers and drinkers by imposing insanely high taxes on gaming, cigarettes and liquor companies, surely they don’t need a rocket scientist to teach highway concessionaires a lesson. But why should the government punish itself by taxing its own left pocket? In essence, GLCs which own highways, is one massive cartel controlling everything in the country. - FT
Lebai2 PAS jangan bodohkan walaun2...
Pemimpin PAS kata dah terbukti mereka difitnah.. Sebab duit RM 90 juta tak masuk akaun PAS.., nak tanya Pemimpin dan Walaun PAS, Sarawak Report tak ada sebut pun RM 90 juta masuk Akaun PAS?
Jadi Pemimpin PAS tak payah Bodohkan Ahli depa lah.. Kalau yang dituduh dalam Sarawak Report tu PAS, yang saman Sarawak Report tu adalah PAS bukan Haji Hadi.. artikel SR tu tuduh Najib..tapi Hj Hadi pergi saman SR, nampak tak mudahnya Haji Hadi dikhadamkan Najib..
Kenapa Haji Hadi yg saman bukan PAS ? Sebab PAS menafsirkan " Top Echelons" dalam artikel SR dimaksudkan Haji Hadi, Dalam pembelaan SR pulak kata "Top Echelons" semua pemimpin Utama ada kaitan dengan PAS.. Tu sebab Haji Hadi Tarik balik Saman..Memang Haji Hadi dah Comfirm Kalah..
Bila Sarawak Report dalam Pembelaan dia,dia sebut yang dimaksudkan "Top Echelons" kesemua Kepimpinan Utama PAS.. tu yang Pemimpin PAS pakat takut.. Semua pemimpin depa , akaun pemimpin depa akan diheret ke Mahkamah London... Tembelang akan Pecah kat sana...
Apa yang SR tulis.. ? RM90 million is widely reckoned to have flowed into the top echelons of PAS in recent months (BN veterans would tell them they came cheap.) ".. nampak tak ada dia sebut akaun PAS ? RM 90 Juta masuk akaun mana mana ? yang jadikan kes ini dengan tajuk RM 90 juta sebagai isu bukan Pembangkang..sebenarnya PAS sendiri..
Tadak masa nak bagi undi pada BN semata mata hanya untuk melihat Semah di bawa ke Semenyih.Tak undi BN pon rakyat bleh lihat Najib dan Semah di bawa ke Sg Buloh nanti..
Sama macam kes 1MDB.. Bila dituduh kerugian RM 40 billion skandal 1MDB.. bukan makna RM 40 Billion masuk akaun Najib dari 1MDB, akhirnya yang sampai tak sampai 2 Billion pada akaun Najib..yang Najib terima pun bukan dari 1MDB..tapi SRC.. itu lah cara depa alirkan duit.. Cuci Duit, sama macam kes Peguam UMNO yang dapatRM 15 juta..tu sebab dalam Artikel Sarawak Report Sebut Najib alirkan RM 90 juta kepada Pemimpin Utama PAS untuk pecahkan Pembangkang.. dia tak kata masuk Akaun..
Depa ni jangan kata lah, Bab Undang2 Jahil..Bebas dengan jaminan Polis pun depa kata Suspek dah dibebaskan.. Macam depa percaya Najib tak bersalah sebab Najib masih bebas.. tak sangka begitu teruk cara orang agama, Bani Melayu berfikir.. agaknya tu sebab,paling ramai jadi mangsa Syarikat Scam adalah Bani Melayu.. tak heran lah air kencing Serangga pun depa tadah minum..jadi air suci.. buakn takat air anai anai 30 Juzuk..
Sudah sudah lah PAS..tak payah Bodoh kah ahli..kalau rasa saman Sarawak Report Kos tinggi..Saman jer Husam, Mahfuz.. Malah Exco Kedah dengan beraninya tunjuk resit transaksi RM 2.5 juta Duit UMNO masuk ke akaun PAS.. Jadi saman jer lah.. ni yg tuduh ni taraf Pemimpin Utama,EXCO..
Sebenarnya Memang wujud Kerjasama Sulit PAS dan UMNO sebelum PRU 14 pecahkan pembangkang.. sepertimana ditulis Sarawak Report.. Mengaku jer lah PAS memang terima Duit UMNO.. Makan Duit UMNO.. berapa pun jumlah yang sampai pada PAS tak penting..Yang penting telah dibuktikan sebelum PRU 14, Haji Hadi.. PAS makan duit UMNO.. Buat kerja untuk UMNO..Jadi Khadam Najib untuk pertahankan BN di Putrajaya.. Duit Deposit calon pun UMNO tolong Support.. - Ipoh Mali
Hadi bayaq 1.4 juta kat Clare Brown...
Anwar Ibrahim semasa berkempen di Terminal Bas Semenyih Sentral, Semenyih, Selangor mendedahkan Editor Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle Brown menerima RM1.4 juta daripada Abdul Hadi Awang sebagai terma penyelesaian kes skandal RM90 juta di Mahkamah London...
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim revealed little tonight about his claim that PAS had to pay Sarawak Editor Clare Rewcastle Brown a large sum of money to settle its defamation suit, except to say that the figure was RM1.4 million.
Keeping the purported evidence close to his chest, Anwar prodded PAS to challenge his claim.
"My name is Anwar Ibrahim, I won't fight if I don't have evidence. This is a fact and I have evidence.
"PAS, specifically its president Abdul Hadi Awang, had to pay RM1.4 million to Rewcastle Brown.
"If PAS wishes to challenge me – anytime. I have the evidence," he told a ceramah in Semenyih.
Anwar said he deliberately goaded PAS for an answer yesterday when he alleged that a payment was made to Sarawak Report.
"Yesterday, I wanted to test them, I asked if they paid Rewcastle Brown, they said 'no'," he said.
Anwar maintained that he was telling the truth, however. Yesterday, PAS denied that Hadi paid the sum as part of a Feb 1 out-of-court settlement.
Hadi had sued Rewcastle Brown in London over a 2016 Sarawak Report article claiming that then-prime minister Najib Abdul Razak channelled RM90 million to top PAS leaders in a bid for support ahead of the 14th general election.
On Feb 13, the PAS president said both Sarawak Report and him agreed to settle the suit and keep the conditions confidential.
“If she (Rewcastle Brown) wants to reveal (the confidential conditions), it is up to her. I have not done so,” he added.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, Rewcastle Brown declined to comment on the claim that Hadi had paid her the sum. - mk