The World Anthem




by E.S. Shankar

Mahtahir is dishonest and wrong and Rafidah Aziz, stupidly wrong. Pakatan Harapan did not merely announce its pre-GE14 Manifesto but also printed and distributed copies of it. They talked it up and down the country to win votes. The Bumiputra agenda is also clearly spelt out in extremely great detail in the Manifesto and clearly has Mahathir's paw marks all over it.

So, for Mahathir to now publicly claim that he had not agreed with the issue of abolishing tolls, a cornerstone of the Manifesto, and that it cannot be done, is downright dishonest. It is also a betrayal of voters who, together with the pivotal issues of abolishing GST and prosecuting 1MDB wrongdoers, cast their votes against Najib and his UMNO/BN government of thieves, looters and economic plunderers, in exchange for fair play and justice.

What is even more disconcerting is the silence from Tony Pua, Lim Guan Eng, DAP, Anwar and PKR. They seem so intent on not losing their Cabinet posts and foothold in government that they are prepared to allow Mahathir to ruin the new government's integrity and election promises which we took extremely seriously. This is cowardly of them beyond belief when you consider that between PKR and DAP, they hold  nearly 70% majority in the coalition!

If Tony Pua and LGE are going to ditch abolishing tolls, the least they should do is publish the Tollcos valuations and buy-out costs and let us judge if they have really done their homework. There are many outside this politically entrenched bunch who do know as much, if not more, about Tollcos as them and are even capable of advising them how such a buy-out can be engineered to the government's advantage. That old mentality, UMNO's "government knows best", is, as has been proven after GE14, only fit for the ditch!

In any event, Mahathir, the architect of much of all our woes, is the man who crafted the crony sweetheart Tollco giveaway deals and contracts with their automatic toll increase and no-divulge OSA-classified clauses. He therefore owes it to us to find a way to abolish tolls and the Tollcos Mafia, come hell or high water.

In the interim, measures can be taken to reduce the Rakyat's toll burden. If I recall correctly, in 2008 Anwar promised us that should the Opposition with the GE, tolls would be halved the day after the elections! Even the Maju Group which made an offer to take over PLUS some two years ago, was shocked at the high maintenance costs incurred by our Tollcos. There is much fat there, the usual result of inflated sub-contracting out to cronies of the directors and CEO's, that can easily be trimmed and still give a fair return to the Tollcos.

It is clear to every Malaysian that Tollcos (just like the IPPs) have been raping us for some 30 years with inflated construction, running and maintenance costs. I bet that much of their financial statements will not stand up proper scrutiny, in the same way that 1MDB's audited accounts have been proven to be utter rubbish and fraud. 

All that is required is for the MoF and Income Tax Department to, for once, use their extensive powers truly for the Rakyat's benefit. They should re-audit all Tellcos and determine exactly how much they have been taking us all for a ride. If you add in the billions of ringgit these Tellcos have been using to donate money from shareholders' funds to the crooked UMNO/BN's war chest without securing approvals at their AGM's, there is a lot of room for the government to reduce the Tollco valuations to the bare minimum.

The Attorney General should also review all the Tollco contracts. When you add in the fact that these contracts were awarded by UMNO/BN's Ali Baba direct-nego method against public interest, I am confident that the Tollco valuation can be made "affordable" to the government. The government should not be afraid to stiff-arm them into submission. They deserve a huge dose of the same medicine they have been dishing out to us for so many years. Also, any payment to Tollcos can be staggered (with no interest) over the next 50 years to reduce the government's cash flow constraints.

So, I am suggesting a two-stage approach:

Stage 1. 
(a) An immediate 50% reduction of tolls.
(b) All toll maintenance contracts to be re-tendered out and overseen by MoT
(c) Tollcos are not to be allowed to make super profits, the rate of return to be restricted to say, cost + 15% or 15% on capital employed whichever is the higher. Toll rates will be revised up or down after each year's audited accounts have been posted.

Stage 2 ( to be completed by end 2019)
(a) Re-audit of all Tollcos for inflated costs, fraud, illegal donations to UMNO/BN.
(b) Review of all Tollco contracts by AG.
(c) Compulsory acquisition of Tollcos by MoT.
(d) Abolishing of tolls and tollcos.

The argument that EPF members will lose out if PLUS is taken over and abolished by MoT holds no water. Firstly, not all EPF members use toll roads, so why should they be the only ones to benefit from PLUS profits? Besides that, some sacrifices are needed in the interest of the greater good i.e. the 30 million citizens of the country.

As for Rafidah, okay, I give her some credit for speaking out against Najib and his ex-government of thieves. But, there is still a huge cloud floating over her head from the multi-billion ringgit AP scandal of the early 2000's. I do not need any advice from those who stood by silently and profited personally while Mahathir ran riot with his racism, Bumi crony capitalism and Ketuananism then. And yes, Manifesto promises do matter and Mahathir, DAP & PKR will renege on them at their own peril. Enough is enough!


Truly Malaysian said...

Fully support your stand. PH govt, please honour all items in the manifesto. We give you time to honour the promises, maybe latest by end of year 2022, so please start implementing other outstanding items in stages. To help the PH I am agreeable to petrol price review once every 3 months to reduce subsidies. Also agreeable to divest non strategic businesses. Govt, as a policy, has no reasons to be in business as it is outright conflict of interest and a misuse of public money!! Public money is the toil and sweat of many ordinary folks. So PH, please understand that we are trying to save you from losing the next GE.

Donplaypuks® said...

Hi Allen

I agree with you that it's not the business of govt to be in business.

Khazanah, PNB etc should divest and privatise their forays into the commercial world.

As for the shortfall in revenue that may result from abolishing tolls, I have 2 points to make:

1. Mahathir created the toll & IPP highway robbery problems between 1987 -2003, so let him find a solution that does not burden the masses with more tax and costs. There is no correlation between tolls and petrol prices, so I don't see why govt should increase petrol price.

2. They should explore Capital Gains Tax so that we do not have a class of rich citizens who pay no income tax and live off capital.

3. Wasteful govt expenditure should be identified and chopped off!

Anonymous said...

To show that they are sincere, the toll rates should be reduced by at least 10% this year.
A promise is a promise.

Kita kena chong hidup-hidup.

Govindan Karuppiah said...