By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Wednesday, 19.8.1987:
Appeal to Supreme Court against Penang High Court’s decision yesterday dismissing application for an injunction to restrain the signing of the UEM contract for North-South Highway privatization
I have decided to appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision by Penang High Court judge, Edgar Joseph Jr., dismissing my application for an injunction to restrain the signing of the United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) contract for North-South Highway privatization.
Sdr. Karpal Singh has been instructed to take immediate action to appeal to the Supreme Court on a certificate of urgency.
I have been forced to take legal action to protect the public interest by asking for an injunction to restrain the signing of the UEM contract for NSH privatization because the Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, has broken his solemn promise to be open and accountable in the NSH privatization contract.
When DAP MPs met him for a special briefing on the NSH privatization contract on July 16, Datuk Samy Vellu invited me to see him any time on the NSH privatization contract, assuring me that he would be open and accountable as he wanted to prove that everything was above-board in the contract.
I find however that Datuk Samy Vellu has become a completely changed man on his return from a three-week overseas trip accompanying the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, on a three-nation of United Kingdom, Hungary and Soviet Union.
The most shocking event was Datuk Samy Vellu announcement immediately on his return from the three-week trip overseas that the UEM contract would be signed within 10 days on 19th August 1987.
After Datuk Samy Vellu announced to DAP MPs on July 16 that he would be seeking variations to the UEM contract, where the 25-year concession period would not be allowed to be extended to 30 years, the reduction of the government loan from $1.65 billion to $750 million, no government guarantee for external risks, reduction of toll rate, etc. Datuk Samy Vellu immediately flew off to join the Prime Minister’s tour.
Negotiations on the variations of the UEM contract as announced by Datuk Samy Vellu to DAP MPs were to be made after the Minister’s return. This was why when the Minister’s first act when he returned from abroad was to announce that the UEM contract would be signed within 10 days, when negotiations for the variation of the UEM contract terms had not been held seriously, I was aghast. This was surely not the way to serve public interest! It would appear that the government was more keen than UEM to sign the NSH privatization contract, and if this is the case, how could the government get meaningful concessions from the UEM to vary the contract?
The second incident that has shocked me and forced me to resort to the legal action is the Minister’s breach of his promise to meet me anytime on the NSH privatization contract. Since his return from abroad, Datuk Samy Vellu has been avoiding me, playing a ‘hide and seek game’. I had telephoned his office last Monday, 10th August, after he came back during the weekend, but was told that he was on it way from Ipoh. When I phoned his office a second time about an hour later, I was informed that he was on his way to Penang!
I phoned up again the next morning on Tuesday, but was informed that Datuk Samy Vellu was ‘sick’ and had not come into the office at all. But the next day, I read Datuk Same Vellu in the press announcing that he would not meet me again on NSH issue, appearing quite hale and hearty.
It bothers me why Datuk Samy Vellu has become a changed person since his return from overseas, losing the confidence, energy and vim that was his special characteristics – a Minister who would not run away from a fight, confrontation or argument inside or outside Parliament!
Is it because he had received strict instructions that his job is to get the UEM contract signed in the shortest possible time, to the extent that he had to break his promise to meet me again on the NSH?
I would advise Datuk Samy Vellu that if he is now no longer a free agent, where he is no more permitted even to meet me on the NSH, then he should take the honourable way out and resign as Works Mnister!
As I said in my prologue to the latest DAP publication, “North-South Highway Scandal”, DAP has been forced by circumstances to consider the legal option on the UEM contract to protect public interest, but I hoped that this legal action will not be necessary. The legal action yesterday in Penang High Court was forced on me because Datuk Samy Vellu announced that the contract would be signed on 19th August, followed by the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, that the contract would definitely be signed.
As the Minister directly responsible for the UEM contract for NSH privatization, Datuk Samy Vellu has an even greater direct responsibility than the Prime Minister to the Malaysian people and nation, and I call on him to honour his promise to be open and accountable and be prepared to accept public views on the UEM contract, including honouring his promise to meet me on the issue.
I am prepared to stay all legal proceedings on the UEM contract provided Datuk Samy Vellu can give a public assurance that he is not rushing to get the UEM contract signed, regardless of its contractual terms and in disregard of the public’s right to ensure that its interests for the next 25 years are being protected.