If parliament has to pass laws to impose mandatory minimum RM 2000 fine for non-payment of 50-sen toll, will it next be asked to pass similar laws for default payment of electricity and telephone bills?

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at Launching of the mass signature campaign demanding the withdrawl of the Federal Roads ( private Management) ( Amendment ) Bill 1993 launched by DAP Federal Territory State committee on Friday , 21 st January 1994 at 10 am..

If parliament has to pass laws to impose mandatory minimum RM 2000 fine for non-payment of 50-sen toll, will it next be asked to pass similar laws for default payment of electricity and telephone bills?

I commend the DAP Federal Territory State Committee for deciding to organize a mass signature campaign on protest against the government attempt to pass the Federal Roads (private Managemnet )( amendent ) Bill 1993 which will impose a mandatory minimum fine of RM 2000 and a maximum of RM 5000 – for non-paymnet of 50 sen toll for roads and brigdes.

If not for the four DAP Federal Territory MPs – Sdr, Liew Ah Kim (siputej ) Sdr. Dr. Tan seng Chin (Kepong ) Sdr. Tan Kok Wai (Sungai Besi) and Sr. Wee Choo Keng ( Bukit Bintang) – was blocked the passage of his Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on December 23. 1993 the people of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia would have another unjust and oppressive law today.

The blocking of the Federal Roads ( Private Managements) *( amendment) bill from being passed in the Dewan Rakyat on December 23 , 1993 however is only temporary , for the Barisan Nasional Government could always re-introduce the Bill to Parliament in the April Meeting.

The Barisan Nasional government has two-third majority which it had often abused by amending the Malaysian constitution of its whim and fancy – and the latest example is the amendment to the Federal Constitution to appoint Tun Mustapha as Minister for Sabah Affairs without having to vacate his Sabah State Assembly sent.

Two days ago, Tun Mustapha resigned not only from the Cabinet but also from UMNO – highlighting how for the flimsiest of reasons , the Barisan Nasional two – thirds majority could be abused to amend the Federal Constitution.

Similialy , if the Federal Roads ( Private Management ) ( amendment ) bill is re – introduced in Parliament in the April meeting , then there is no way it could be blocked or rejected.

This is why this mass signature campaign by the people of Kuala Lumour to demand that the government respect their wishes by not re-introducing the bill at the next parliamentary meeting is very relevant and important.

There are many strong and powerful reasons for objecting to such a bill.

Firstly , such a bill goes against the whole concept and the very principles of pribatisation – which is to let the private sector take the risks and profits of the venture.

If Parliament has to pass laws to impose mandatory minimum RM 2000 fine for non-payment of 50 sen toll, will it next be asked to pass similar laws for default payment of electricity and telephone bills?

The company which has won the franchise for tollcollection has a civil remedy in the courts for any non-payment of toll . Why should Parliament be asked to give to such a company criminal powers apart from this civil remedy?

Maybe, Parliament would be asked next to privatize the courts – to allow the toll company to set up a special court of its own to impose mandatory minimum fines!

Secondly , if Parliament is to intervene in privatization areas , then it should uphold the public interest by maintaining a proper balance between competing interests . If non-payment for toll is to become a criminal offence with mandatory minimum RM 2000 fine then failure by the privastised company to provide or maintain efficient service should also become a criminal offence where commuters cam claim minimum compensation of RM 2000 each.

If there are such reciprocal obligations in the Bill for the privatized company and the commuters , then the people of Kuala Lumpur would be able to queen up in the courts to demand compensation for they are all paying toll in Kuala lumpur just to get into traffic jams!

The third objection is the provision of mandatory minimum fine of RM 2000 . It is clear that to barisna Nasinal leaders , the refusal to pay 50 sen is more serious than corruption and criminal breach of trust which do not have such mandatory minimum sentence.

Fourthly , the Bill is the latest blow to the principle of the independence of the Judiciary , By excluding Section 173A of the Criminal Procedure Court which removes the discretionary power of the judges to take mitigating circumstances into account before passing sentence , the Government to openly showing no respect for the judges and magistrates.

Such disrespect for the principle of the Independence of the Judiciary could be seen from the reaction of the Prime Minister , Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed , to the outcome of the corruption trial of the Sabah Chief Minister , Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Keng Yaik Talking rubbish when he said government leaders harshly penalized by the course in corruption cases as the scandal is that government leaders enjoy immunity from prosecution

Gerakan President and the Minister for Primary Industries , Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yail , said yesterday that Dr. Mahathir was merely expressing his unhappiness when he commented on the “lenient “ sentence imposed on Pairin for corruption and that he did not mean to be disrespectful to the court .

Keng Yaik said the courts seemed to be very lenient in imposing sentences on opposition leaders found guilty of corruption practices while government leaders are penalized more harshly in corruption cases.

Keng Yaik is talking rubbish . In the first place , apart from Pairin , who are the opposition leaders who had been found guilty of corruption practices? Does he think Dr. Mahathir was referring to me as having got away leniently after being convicted of corruption , when thePrime Minister mentioned my case as another example which the government was unhappy about – as I had not yet been disqualified as Opposition leader , MP and assemblyman ?

Futhermore , can Keng Yaik mention the government leaders in the ten years who had been harshly dealt with in corruption charges?

The scandal in Malaysia is not that government leaders had been harshly penalised in corruption cases , but that they enjoy immunity from prosecution altoghether.