by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, Sept 11, 1990:
Call on the Cabinet to defuse the Cheras toll issue by ordering the immediate suspension of the tolls collection and the withdrawal of all police personnel from the area
MCA Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, said yesterday that the Cabinet tomorrow is expected to discuss the Cheras toll issue.
This is not good enough. It is no use of the Cabinet just discussing the Cheras toll issue. What the Cheras people and the Malaysian public want is for the Cabinet to resolve the Cheras toll issue tomorrow!
The Cabinet can defuse and resolve the Cheras toll issue by two simple decisions, firstly, to immediately the Cheras tolls collection; and secondly, the withdrawal of all police personnel from the Cheras area.
The Cheras tolls should be suspended immediately because it is precisely because of the high-handed and arbitrary manner in which the Cheras tolls were imposed on Sept 1, followed by the closing up of all access roads and slipways by Syarikat Teratai, which created the public feelings and anger.
The Cheras tolls should be immediately suspended so that the Cheras people have an opportunity to get their views heard by the authorities before any re-imposition of the tolls.
The Cheras residents were cheated and betrayed three times
This is particularly necessary because the Cheras residents had been led by the Gerakan Deputy Works Minister, Alex Lee, to believe that there would definitely be no tolls for at least one more year.
It is understandable that the people of Cheras should feel cheated and betrayed when the Cheras tolls were suddenly imposed on Sept 1. The people feel further cheated and betrayed when all access roads and slipways were closed off by the Syarikat Teratai.
The people of Cheras feel cheated and betrayed a third time when Alex Lee said that the MCA Ministers never raised the tolls issue in Cabinet, and Dr. Mahathir claimed that he had never received any representations against the Cheras tolls.
If MCA and Gerakan Ministers can get the Cabinet to immediately suspend the Cheras tolls, what is the use of having MCA and Gerakan Ministers?
The Cabinet tomorrow must also step into the Cheras tolls issue to defuse and receive it. I hope that all the MCA and Gerakan Ministers will not play a double game on this issue. I do not want to see MCA and Gerakan branches in Cheras and elsewhere coming out with statements saying one thing on the Cheras tolls issue while their Ministers do an opposite thing in the Cabinet.
If the MCA and Gerakan Ministers take a united stand on the Cheras toll issue and still cannot convince the Cabinet to get the Cheras tolls to be suspended immediately, then the Cheras residents and the Malaysian public are entitled to ask what is the use of the MCA and Gerakan having Ministers at all!
My second proposal that the Cabinet decide that the police should withdraw all its police reinforcements at the Cheras toll may be startling to some, who feel that if the police withdraw from the Cheras tolls plaza areas, there would be total chaos and breakdown of law and order in the Cheras area.
I do not agree. The Cheras residents are angry, and legitimately so, over the high-handed manner in which the Cheras tolls were imposed, and once the Cabinet make the decision to immediately suspend Cheras toll collection, I have no doubt that the people of Cheras would prove that they are as peace-loving and law-abiding as any other area in Kuala Lumpur or in Malaysia.
Call on the Deputy IGP to review the police role in the Cheras toll issue to ensure that the hitherto good police-people relationship in Kuala Lumpur does not suffer a grave and serious set back
I would in fact go step further and call on the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, to review the police role on the Cheras toll issue to ensure that the hithero good people-police relationship in Cheras and Kuala Lumpur does not suffer a grave and serious setback.
The Cheras toll dispute is an issue between the Cheras residents and the Syarikat Teratai, but in the past few years, it has been turned into an issue pitting the Police against the Cheras residents, with Syarkat Teratai in the most comfortable position of having the Police fighting the battle for them.
How did the Police suddenly become the agents of Syarikat Teratai? The Cheras tolls issue should never been turned into a police-people issue, for the Cheras residents are not against the Police, but against Syarikat Teratai.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police should review the entire police handling of the issue, and in particular the crowd control by the police on Friday night, to ascertain how a issue involving the Cheras residents and Syarikat Teratai become converted into a people-police problem.
The entire police approach and attitude to socio-economic problems must be reviewed, for if the Police persist in regarding socio-economic grievances of the people as a police problem, then there would never be enough police in the country to deal with these grievances of the people!
Finally, I call on the Cabinet to come out with a clear-cut statement that the Cheras tolls issue is not a communal issue at all, as it affects all Cheras residents, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians.