The 100% increase in highway toll is most unreasonable and unjustifiable as the government is already collection $1.2 billion as road tax, licence fee and petrol duty from motorists

Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the demonstration at Ayer Keroh Highway toll plaza on Thursday, 13.8.1987 at 8.30 a.m. to protest against the 100% increase in highway toll rate

The 100% increase in highway toll is most unreasonable and unjustifiable as the government is already collection $1.2 billion as road tax, licence fee and petrol duty from motorists.

The four-state protest and demonstration by the DAP this morning is to highlight the injustice of the government imposing 100% increase in highway toll rate with effect from today for four important reasons:

Firstly, it is most unreasonable and unjustifiable for the government to increase 100% toll rate when the government is already collecting $1.2 billion from motorists in the form of road tax, licence fees and petrol duty.

For instance, the government’s Federal Revenue estimates for last year for the following items were as follows:

Road Tax – $687 million
Driving Licence – $116 million
Public Transport ordinary
registration fee – $ 26 million
Public Services Vehicles,
drivers and conductors
licences – $ 6.5 million
Petrol Import Duty – $ 416 million_
Total $ 1,251.5 million

As motorists and transport operators are already paying $1.2 billion in various forms of taxes for the use of the Federal roads and highways, the government should not go on a spree to set up tolls over the country, or to keep increasing toll rates!

Secondly, the increase in toll rates by 100% would not benefit the Government, but only one company, United Engineers Malaysia, which would take over the toll collections from the Federal Government when the North-South Highway contract is signed.

Thirdly, there is no justification on the Government’s part to increase the highway toll by 100% when the UEM contract for the North-South Highway is still under final negotiations – as this tantamounts to the government conceding on the most important element in the NSH privatization contract. A negotiator who unilaterally concedes the most important issue in a negotiations should be sacked instantly, for he is serving the interests of the opposite party instead of his own side!

Fourthly, as UEM is eventually an UMNO company, because of the controlling interest over UEM by Hatibudi Sdn. Bhd – the UMNO investment arm – the increase in toll by 100% means that ultimately it is the UMNO politicians who will benefit. This is not only a gross conflict of interest between the duties of UMNO politicians who are also Cabinet Ministers to their responsibilities to the rakyat, but set a most unhealthy and undesirable practice whereby component Barisan Nasional parties will compete with each other to share out the government’s privatization programme. MCA politicians, for instance, would claim that since the MCA has a $50 million debt, the MCA should be allowed to form a company to take over a juicy privatization programme which will yield them billions of dollars in profits!

MIC and Gerakan, as well as other Barisan Nasional component parties, can also make their bid, and finally, privatization will become a programme for the Barisan Nasional component parties to exploit Malaysian taxpayers for their interests and that of their leaders!

For these reasons, I support the call by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) that the Government should scrap the road tax if it wants to increase toll rates.