Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung. Lim Kit Siang, at the launching of the mass signature campaign in Klang Valley to oppose and protest against the imposition of toll after the widening of Federal Highway Route II in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 2.9.1987 at 1 p.m.
DAP will consider launching nation-wide mass signature campaign to protest and oppose the EUM contract for North-South Highway (NSH) as there are strong indications that Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, is being ‘arm-twisted’ to reinstate the original terms which will impose $63 billion burden on Malaysians for 30 years
Today, the DAP launches a mass signature campaign in the Klang Valley to protest and oppose the proposed collection of toll on the 23-year old Federal Highway from Subang to Klang (Federal Highway Route II) after it has been widened from four to six lanes by United Engineers Malaysia (EUM).
This is an issue which not only concerns all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, but which concerns future generations of Malaysians, for once toll is imposed on the old highway, the toll charges are not going to remain static, but will increase relentlessly year by year – imposing a permanent and increasing burden and hardship on the people in Klang Valley.
Klang Valley people made ‘captive victims’ to pay for the $360 million UMNO complex and $20 billion profit to UEM from NSH deal
There are at least eight objections to the imposition of toll on the old Federal Highway Route II.
Firstly, the imposition of toll on an old highway which had been in use for 23 years. Once this principle is established, then the government can impose toll on all the old highways and roads in the country, by just spending some money to upgrade or widen them.
Secondly, by putting up two toll plazas on the widened Federal Highway Route II, one at Batu Tiga and the other just after the Institut Teknologi Mara, the government will be going against its own principle that road-users would have an alternative route to any tolled highway.
Thirdly, the open discrimination by the government against the people of Klang Valley in the imposition of toll on an old highway. The government is exempting the 24km stretch of the North South Highway between Bukit Kayu Hitam and Jitra from toll on two grounds: (i) there is no alternative route available for road-users who do not want to pay tolls; and (ii) difficulty of operating a closed toll system because of the many accesses to houses and properties on this section between Bukit Kayu Hitam and Jitra. The real reason for exempting toll on this stretch of the NSH is lack of alternative route for raod-users, for otherwise, an open toll system could have been used for the Bukit Kayu Hitam-Jitra section. If the government an exempt toll on a new section on the NSH, it is doubly unjust to the people of Klang Valley that toll would be imposed on an old highway.
Fourthly, by locking up Shah Alam and Klang in a tight toll net, without giving motorists alternative route to travel toll-free, the government is imposing unreasonable restriction on the freedom of movement for Malaysians guaranteed by Article 9(2) of the Constitution. Article 9(2) of the Constitution provides for four circumstances where the government could restrict freedom of movement, namely for national security, public order, public health or the punishment of offenders. None of these four circumstances apply where the imposition of toll is concerned.
Fifthly, it is unfair that the Klang Valley people are made to subsidise the construction of the North-South Highway. Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, had said that if toll is not imposed on the old highway from Subang to Klang, money spent on the NSH project could not be recovered over the next 100 years.
Sixthly, it will stunt the growth of the Selangor capital, Shah Alam, which has fallen far short of its earlier promise, and adversely affect the development and growth potential of the other areas in Klang Valley.
Seventhly, the imposition of toll on the old Federal Highway, and the New Klang Valley Expressway, is the lynch-pin to UEM’s privatization deal for the North-South Highway, to enable it to make a profit exceeding $20 billion.it is fair that the people should pay toll on an old highway just to ensure that UEM could make a $20 billion profit from the NSH project?
Eighthly, the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and Acting UMNO Youth Leader, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, have admitted that the EUM highway project was a means to solve UMNO’s debt problems for the $360 million UMNO complex. It is fair and right, just and proper, that the people in Klang Valley should be made ‘captive victims’ to pay for the $360 million UMNO complex and to give UEM $20 billion profit from the NSH deal?
Call on Malaysians who oppose the tolls on Federal Highway Route II to come forward to help in the mass signature campaign
This mass signature campaign is a people’s campaign. All road users of Federal Highway Route II, from Kuala Lumpur to Petaling Jaya and beyond Klang should express their opposition to the proposed imposition of toll on the 23-years-old highway by giving full support to this campaign. I call on Malaysians who oppose the imposition of tolls on the old highway to come forward to help in the mass signature campaign, as this is a campaign to free ourselves and future generations from the fetters of the toll-mania of the present government.
It may be necessary to launch a nation-wide mass signature campaign to oppose and protect against the UEM contract for the North-South Highway. In the special briefing to DAP MPs, Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, gave an assurance that there would be variations to the original terms of the UEM tender for the NSH, which in my calculation would save Malaysians $22 billion.
There are very strong indications that Datuk Samy Vellu has succumbed to pressures to reinstate the original terms of UEM for the NSH, which probably explains why Datuk Samy Vellu is going round the country with the vow to keep mum on the NSH issue.
Indications that the UEM is getting its way to demand reinstatement of its original terms, like the $1.6 billion government loan, toll rate exceeding the government’s decision of 5 sen per km for passenger cars, government guarantee on UEM’s external risks, five year extension of concession period to 30 years, etc, are given in several UEM-inspired articles and publicity material which is part of UEM’s publicity offensive to counter public opposition to the NSH deal.
The DAP is seriously considering launching a nation-wide mass signature campaign to protest and oppose the UEM contract for NSH, in particular the original tender terms, which will impose a $63 billion burden on Malaysians for 30 years.