The Opposition Front will abolish the Cheras and Jalan Pahang tolls if it is given the mandate to govern Malaysia in the next general elections

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Petaling Jaya Ceramah held at Transport Workers’ Union Hall on Wednesday, 12th September 1990 at 8 p.m.

The Opposition Front will abolish the Cheras and Jalan Pahang tolls if it is given the mandate to govern Malaysia in the next general elections

The Cheras tolls issue had been mishandled by the Barisan Nasional Government right from the beginning, and for this reason, the frustration, opposition and anger of the Cheras residents against the Cheras toll is understandable.

The Cheras tolls issue should be an object lesson to the Barisan Nasional how not to handle a public controversy, to the extent that a socio-economic problem of the people involving a toll concession company was converted into a security problem pitting the people against the police.

In retrospect, it is clear that the Barisan Nasional Government committed the following mistakes which caused the feelings of the Cheras residents to boil over during a spontaneous demonstration last Friday.

Firstly, the secretive manner in which Teratai S.K. Sdn. Bhd. was awarded the privatization contract for the Cheras tols, as up to now, the terms of the privatization contract are still a secret, including whether Teratai S.K. Sdn. Bhd had been given a monopoly to exploit the Cheras people to make huge profits in the next 12 years;

Secondly, the failure of the Cabinet Ministers to look after the welfare of the 200,000 residents n Cheras in approving the $1 and $2 tolls, involving an extra financial burden of $60 to $200 for each household as seen by the following incidents:

i. The statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, that he had not received any memorandum or representations against the Cheras tolls when last year, a memorandum signed by 23 organisations, societies and political parties in Cheras was addressed to him; and way back in 1987, there was another memorandum for him signed by residents of some 20 housing estates in Cheras;

ii. The statement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, that the Cabinet approved the Cheras toll rate without considering whether it was high or low;

iii. The statement by the MCA Local and Housing Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, after the demonstration that the Cheras toll was too high, although he had been one of the Cabinet Ministers who had approved the toll rate;

Thirdly, the high-handed manner in which the Cheras tolls was imposed on Sept 1, in utter disregard of the views and grievances of the people, as shown by:

i. The broken pledge by the Deputy Works Minister, Alex Lee, that there would be no Cheras toll for at least another year;

ii. The secret and understand manner in which the toll plazas were constructed ad the tolls imposed, without giving Cheras people any advance notice to appeal;

iii. The ‘final solution’ attitude adopted by the Teratai S.K. Sdn Bhd in closing of all access roads slipways.

Fourthly, the failure of the police in crowd control during the spontaneous demonstration by the Cheras residents last Friday. The 10,000 people came out peacefully, with entire families old and young, to epress their protest against the Cheras toll. Why should the police loss control of the crowd situation, creating a police-people conflict when the target of the people’s is Teratai Sdn Bhd?

It is clear that the Barisan Nasional Government, and all the Cabinet Ministers, had mishandled the Cheras toll issue very badly.

I wish here to make a policy announcement on behalf of the Opposition Front, comprising Parti Semangat 46, DAP, AMIPF and Parti Rakyat Malaysia.

During the various discussions between the DAP and Semangat 46 on areas of common agreement, and in particular on a common programme as to common election manifesto for the Opposition Front comprising Semangat 46, DAP, AMIPF, and Parti Rakyat, the question of the inner city toll collection was one of the issues on which we had reached agreement.

I had also discussed this issue with the Semangat 46 President, Tengku Razaleigh, this morning, and with his agreement, I am announcing tonight on behalf of the Opposition Front comprising Semangat 46, DAP AMIPF and Parti Rakyat Malaysia, that if the Opposition parties are given the mandate to govern Malaysia in the next general elections, we will abolish toll collections at Cheras and Jalan Pahang.