Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the Local Government Amendment Bill on Monday, August 2, 1993
DAP calls for established of a Parliamentary Committee on the Privatisation to oversee the entire privatisation process to stamp out abuses like ‘piratisation’ and ‘insider privatisation’
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Dr. Ting Chew Peh, in his winding-up speech on the Sewerage Services Bill last Monday claimed that privatisation is the best option toi resolve the problem of sewerage services in the country, as proved by the success in the privatisation that had been implemented like projects on the construction of the North-South Highway, Telekom, MAS and others.
He also said that the Government would not overlook its responsibility to protect the interest of the people and will establish supervisory bodies to ensure that the interest of the people are protected.
The history of privatisation in Malaysia in the last ten years is not a history of the protection of the rights and interests of the people through a system which is open, accountable and transparent, but a historic where the interest of the people had been sacrificed so that a small select elite with close connections with powerful political personalities in government could make great for tunes from privatisation.
These are three types of privatisation in Malaysia – firstly; ‘piratisation’, secondly’ insider privatisation’ and thirdly, genuine privatisation.
A good example of ‘piratisation’ is the privatisation of the North-South Highway contract to an insolvent company which had been taken over by UMNO, the United Engineers Malaysia (UEM), simply to give UMNO the funds to finance the Putra World Trade Centre.
The UEM privatisation of the North-South Highway is not only a ‘piratisation’ of the rights of the motorists, but a ‘piratisation’ of the human rights of Malaysians – for this was the reason why DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Jelutong, Sdr. Karpal Singh and I were detained under the Internal Security Act during Operation Lalang in October 1987.
Karpal Singh was my lawyer, and I had succeeded in getting a High Court injunction to halt the award of the North-South Highway privatisation contract to UEM pending a full trial, where the sordid tale of UMNO corruption and abuses of power would have been exposed publicly.
This is why Karpal Singh and I had to be put away in Kamunting Detention Centre, where I lost my personal freedom for the second time, this time for 18 months.
The 50 per cent toll increase for the crawl at the Kuala Lumpur – Seremban stretch of North-South Highway for the past two years is best example that Government cannot protect the interests of the public after privatisation
Dr . Ting Chew Peh’s assurance that the Government would set up the supervisory and monitory agencies to regulate the privatisation process to protect the interests of the public cannot inspire much public confidence from the government from the government’s record so far.
For instance, the users of the North-South Highway between the Kuala Lumpur and Seremban stretch had been suffering for the past two years because of prolonged and imcompetent roadworks between the Sungei Besi Toll Plaza and Seremban.
On July 11 last year, I left Petaling Jaya at 2.30p.p. for Malacca, entering the North-South Highway at Sungei Besi Toll Plaza at about 3p.m. It took me over two-and –half hours on the North-South Highway to reach Ayer Keroh, although PLUS promised in its transit ticket: “UTARA KE SELATAN, LEBIH SELAMAT, MUDAH DAN CEPAT” – where Toll to Toll from Sungei Besi to Ayer Keroh should be able to be covered from 45 minutes to one hour.
PLUS did not deliver its promise of a service which was’lebih selamat, mudah dan cepat’, but the reverse, providing a service which was ‘lebih tidak selamat, tidak mudah and tidak cepat’- not for one weekend, or one week, but for over two years already!
In fact, it is not North-South Highway at all, but North-South ‘low way’. In protest against the failure of PLUS to provide the service it had promised in exchange for collecting toll, I made a citizen protest by refusing to pay the RM5.80 toll at the Ayer Keroh Toll Plaza to highlight the sufferings of the motorists for over a year.
Did this citizen protest galvanise the Government to take action to ensure that PLUS keep to its contractual bargain to provide ‘a safer, easier and faster’ journey?
The Cabinet was indeed stirred up, not to castigate PLUS, but to denouce my citizen’s protest. The Cabinet went so far as to hold an emergency Cabinet discussion on my $5.80 citizen protest in Kuala Trengganu – with the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, Tan Sti Abu Talib and the CID Director, Datuk Zaman Khan, all warning diractions against me.
Last Saturday, I again travelled to Malacca, leaving the Subang Interntional Airport at 5p.m., at I did not arrive at the Ayer Keroh Toll Plaza until 7.15p.m.!
After one year from my RM5.80 citizen protest last July, or two years since PLUS had started its ‘slow-motion’ upgrading of the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban stretch of the North-South Highway, the commuters are cursing PLUS every time they have to travel this stretch.
They are cursing even more, because the government has allowed PLUS to increase the toll by 50 per cent – where it now costs RM8.90 from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca, as compared to the previous RM5.80 – where commuters have to pay more for even worse service!
A government which could protect the interests of the people following privatisation would have stopped PLUS from increasing its toll by 50 per cent until it had completed its roadworks between the Kuala Lumpur / Seremban stretch. In fact, PLUS had no moral or contractual right to collect any toll during the period it could not provide the ‘safer, smoother and faster’ journey it promised to commuters.
This is the best example that no government servant or even Minister is powerful enough to regulate or monitor privatised companies, especially as the political party which the Minister belonged to depend on this privatised company for important financial donations and contributions.
Insider Privatisation should be declared an actionable economic offence and those guilty should be banned for all future privatisation contracts
An exanple of ‘insider privatisation’. Which like ‘insider trading’ is wrong and improper because it constitutes breach of trust and abuses of privileged position and information, is the privatisation of the National Sports Complex, including the demolition of Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara, to United Engineers Malaysia.
In 1986, UEM was appointed consultants for the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex, giving it access to privileged information about the government’s plans for the construction of a national sports complex.
After gaining such privileged information, it itself submitted a proposal for the privatisation of such a national sports complex, and is awarded on the basis of ‘first come first serve’ principle.
Just as insider trading has been made a criminal offence, insider privatisation should also be declared am actionable economic crime- for this is a clear abuse of access to privileged information and position denied to all others – and those guilty should be banned from all privatisation contracts in future.
Can the Minister for Housing and Local Government tell this House under what category does the privatisation of the national sewerage system to Indah Consortium fall under – piratisation, insider privatisation or genuine privatisation?
In view of the failure of Minister and Government agencies to monitor privatised sector, a satisfactory and effective mechanism is urgently needed, and the DAP calls for the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee on Privatisation which will oversee and monitor the privatised sector to protect the public interest.
Ting Chew Peh lied in this House when he denied that Indah Consortium had proposed RM3 To RM5 for sewerage tariff
In my speech on the Sewerage Services Bill on July 22, I had demanded an explanation from Dr. Ting Chew Peh as to why he had doubled the sewerage tariff proposed by Indah Consortium in its privatisation proposal, when as Minister responsible, he should seek to reduce the tariff.
I had referred to Dr. Ting Chew Peh’s announcement reported in the Star of 13th July 1993 that every household will have to pay between RM3 and RM 10 a month for the first five years when the sewerage services are privatised, when the original proposal for sewerage tariff of Indah Consortium was RM3 to RM5 for every household.
This is Chew Peh’s reply in his winding-up:
“Dari peringkat awal lagi, bakal syarikat yang berminat untuk mengambilalil Sistem Pembentugan Negara telah mencadangkan kadar caj sebanyak RM3 sehingga RM10 sebulan kepada pengguan-pengguan yang telah disambungkan kepada sistem pembentungan. Caj ini adalah berpatutan dan tidak akanmembebankan golongan yang berpendapatan rendah memandangkan unsur-unsur kos subsidi yang dikira dan ianya juga merupakan had maksimum yang perlu dibayar oleh pennguna.
“Pengguna-pengguna yang mengguankan tangki septik akan dikenankan caj sebanyak RM3 sebulan sahaja untuk perkhidmatan sedutan enapcemar. Dalam hal ini, adalah tidk benar syarikat berkeneen pernah mencadangkan caj di antara RM3 hingga RM5 seperti yang didakwa oleh Ahli Yang Berhormat dari Tanjong dari Ipoh.”
Dr. Ting Chew Peh had deliberately lied in this House, or he had not seen the original proposal of Indah Consortium for the privatisation of the national sewerage system dated 18 th August 1992 and submitted to the Prime Minister.
Let me quote from the Executive Summary of this Proposal with reference to sewerage tariff:
“4.3 The sewerage tariff will be incorporated as a surcharge on the water tariff collected by State water authorities. The general public will receive one bill with one anount to pay which will cover water and sewerage services. The sewerage component of the bill will be made up of two parts;
• An availability charge calculated as a percentage of the assessed value of the property
• A usage charge calculated as a rate on the volume of the water used.
“4.4 Initially the following tariff structure will be proposed for customers:
Residential Average Tariff
Septic Tanks M$3
Connected M$15 per mth per equivalent unit
Septic Tanks M$9 per mth per equivalent unit”
These two extracts from the Executive Summary of the original privatisation proposal of Indah Consortium show very clear that it is the Minister for Housing and Local Government who is wrong about the sewerage tariff proposal of Indah Consortium.
Chew Peh should confirm whether Indah Consortium will collect RM90 million to RM300 million a year from sewerage tariff for the first five years
Dr. Ting Chew Peh owes the people of Malaysia an satisfactory explanation as to why he doubled the sewerage tariff which would be charged on every household after privatisation from the original proposal submitted by Indah Consortium.
Dr. Ting Chew Peh had clarified that the national sewerage system when privatised would cover 143 local authorities and not the original proposal of 43 local authorities submitted by Indah Consortium.
This would mean that the 1.2 million households in the 43 local authorities could increase to 2.5 million households for the 143 local authorities.
Going by Dr’ Ting Chew Peh’s sewerage tariff of RM3 to RM10 per household, this means that Indah Consortium could collect from sewerage tariff lone the sum ranging form RM7.5 million to RM25 million a month or RM90 million to RM300 million a year for the first five years.
Dr.Ting Chew Peh must confirm whether these figures are right, and if not, to give the people the true and correct figures.
We reject the argument given by Dr. Ting that the final terms and conditions of the privatisation contract had not been finalised, for it is inconceivable that such terms had not been agreed to.
Dr.Ting Chew Peh had been dishonest when he claimed the government was waiting for the series of sewerage bills to be passed by Parliament before negotiating the final terms and conditions of the privatisation contract.
The Minister for Housing should not ‘play the fool’ with Parliament, for my information is that final terms and conditions, including sewerage tariff, the RM500 million soft loan, had all been agreed upon, and the contract is just waiting to be given the formal signature once the necessary amendments to the various sewerage bills had been passed.
The Minister for Housing was being irresponsible when he even claimed at one stage the winding-up that if the terms and conditions of the privatisation contract could not be reached after the passage of the sewerage bills, it might not be Indah Consortium but some other consortium which would get the privatisation.
Dr. Ting Chew Peh forgot that he himself had said at the beginning of the winding-up that Indah Consortium’s proposal was accepted because it was the best for three reasons:
(i) rakyat akan menikmati faedah ecomomies of scale dengan bayaran yang berpatutan;
(ii) ia melibatkan elemen gross subsidy di antara kawasa-kawasan dalam pihak berkuasa tempatan dan juga di antara rakyat yang berkeupayaaan denganrakyat yang kurang berkeupayaan.
(iii) Ia akan membantu memajukan perkembangan sektor industri pembentugan negara ini dengan membenarkan panglibatan pengusaha-pengusaha kecil melalui sistem bandar.
Since the Government has decided to award the privatisation to Indah Consortium because its sewerage tariff is fair, this can only mean that the Government had agreed to the sewerage tariff which would have to be paid by every household. Why then is Dr.Ting Chew Peh pretending that such terms and conditions had not even been discussed?
There is no doubt that if I had not given the full details of the Indah Consortium privatisation of the national sewerage system, Dr. Ting Chew Peh would still be pretending that he does not know who will finally sign the privatisation contract. This was in fact the stance he took before he introduced the Sewerage Services Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on 22nd July 1993.
Privasation can be a threat to human rights and press freedom
The strange behaviour of the Minister for Housing and Local Government in trying to hide from Parliament and the country the true facts of the national sewerage services privatisation is the best proof that privatisation can be a threat to human rights and even press freedom in Malaysia.
We can see this very clearly in certain newspaper reporting of the now famous intervention by the Minister for Finance, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, during my speech on the Sewerage Services Bill on July 22, 1993.
Anwar Ibrahim had challenged me to repeat outside what I had said inside the House during my speech, and when I accepted his challenge, Anwar Ibrahim took 48 hours to complain that I had not repeated the allegation that he wanted.
Anwar Ibrahim is creating Commonwealth Parliamentary history in being the first and only Minister to challenge an Opposition MP to repeat outside the House what he had not said.
Does Anwar Ibrahim understand the meaning of the word ‘repeat’? The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (low priced edition) defines ‘repeat’ as ‘say or do again’.
This is why I challenged Anwar Ibrahim to specify what I had said during my speech on the Sewerage Services Bill which he wanted me to repeat outside the House, and I will do so within 24 hours.
However, certain newspaper had been carrying a most biased, dishonest and tendentious reporting, as for instance, this headline in the New Straits Times on Friday, July 30, 1993: “Lim declines to accept Anwar’s second challenge”, and this headline in Berita Harian of the same day: “ Kit Siang enggan terima cabaran Anwar”.
The Berita Harian report was no report, but comment, and very biased, prejudiced and tendentious comment, as follow:
“Ketua Pembangkang Lim Kit Siang enggan menyahut cabaran terbuka Menteri Kewangan, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, sebaliknya mengeluarkan kenyataan yang memutarbelitkan isu sebenar.
“Dalam kenyataan bertulisnya, Lim menimbulkan beberapa isu lain yang tidak ada kaitan dengan projek penswastaan pembentugan yang dibahaskan di Parlimen.”
And in today’s “Berita Harian”, under the pseudonym of Kunta Kinte, there is another vicious piece under the heading: “Kit Siang kuat mengkritik tapi tak tahan dikritik”. It said:
“Pertikaman lidah antara Menteri Kewangan, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dan Ketua Pembangkang, Lim Kit Siang nampaknya belum selesai. Kit Siang enggan sahut cabaran Anwar walaupun sudah dua kali dibuat. Sebaliknya lain dicabar, lain dia jawab.”
Recently, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, hit out at ‘penulis pelacur’, and the writings of Kunta Kinta is the best example of such ‘penulis pelacur’ and ‘penulis najis’, who could throw all journalistic principles and ethics to the winds, by spreading communal and chauvinist poison to serve their purpose.
I am prepared to repeat my entire speech on the Sewerage Services Bill outside the House to make it easy for Anwar Ibrahim to take legal action against me
In his column today, Kunta Kinta said I label Berita Harian as an Anwar Ibrahim paper. There is no need for me to do such labelling, for it is a matter of fact. Just ask all UMNO MPs, whether pro Anwar or anti Anwar, and they will confirm it. In fact, UMNO Vice President, Datuk Sanusi Junid – famous for his old and young coconut stories – has despaired of ever getting fair reporting in the News Straits Times and Berita Harian.
Let me declare here that I am prepared to repeat my entire speech on the Sewerage Services Bill outside the House to make it easy for Anwar Ibrahim to take legal action against me. All that Anwar Ibrahim need to do is to confirm that he want me to repeat the entire speech outside the House. Alternatively, he can get his pawns in the Berita Harian, like Kunta Kinte, to demand that I repeat my entire speech on the Sewerage Services Bill outside the House.
Once Anwar make the request or any of his pawns in Berita Harian make such a demand, I will arrange for such repetition of my entire speech outside Parliament, and I will send a special invitation to Anwar Ibrahim to be personally present, with his battery of lawyers.
Journalists who want to play political games should have the courage and conviction to come forward and use their own names instead oh hiding under a pseudonym.
I had said last week that Kunta Kinte is Nazri Abdullah, but I have been told that it could be Kadir Jasin.
Let Nazri Abdullah or Kadir Jasin step forward, come out of the shadows and identity himself as Kunta Kinte so that the whole country know who is ‘penulis pelacur’ national in the country.
Privatisation wields great political power and is in fact an important factor in the present UMNO ‘battle of the decade’.
How can Ghafar Baba continue as deputy Prime Minister when the majority of UMNO MPs have withdrawn their support from him?
It is very interesting that BBC of UMNO backbenchers have declared their support for Anwar Ibrahim to become the Deputy UMNO President and Deputy Prime Minister.
This is fact tantamounts to an open vote of no confidence by UMNO MPs in the Deputy Prime Minister – and I wonder how Ghafar Baba could continue to serve as Deputy Prime Minister when the majority of UMNO MPs have withdrawn their support from him.
I do not want to get involved in this UMNO battle, but Malaysians have a right to be concerned as to the long hand of privatisation reaching into all aspects of Malaysian life, not only in the particular contract being privatised, but also in the stockmarket, economy, politics, environment, human rights, press freedom etc.