Monday, December 18, 2006

Hike! Hike! Hike!

We have heard it more than once too often. Whenever it is time for the highway toll rates to be reviewed, we have the Minister of Works, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu blaming the rakyat for the hikes.

“If someone wants some facilities, then he has to pay for it."

Yes, indeed, the rakyat would like to enjoy the highway facilities. Datuk Seri Samy Vellu is absolutely right there. However, the rakyat would also like to make transparent, negotiate and renegotiate the highway concession contracts since Datuk Seri Samy Vellu is doing such a shitty job in that process.

Malaysia must have one of the most democratically elected incompetent Minister of Works who can negotiate such biased and one-sided contracts which benefits only the toll concessionaires and disadvantages the rakyat.

As it is, based on existing toll rates, all the "affected" highway concessionaires in the rate review are already very profitable. However, not only are rates raised by as much as 60%, the Government has to further top up almost RM2.6 billion to the concessionaires!

And yet the Government has the audacity to "spin" the "subsidy" paid as helping ease the plight of the rakyat! Have we grown so stupid from our education system such that we are expected to be eternally grateful to the Minister of Works and the Government for their sacrifice?

In the early years of our Prime Minister's administration, we have been led to believe that the unfair toll concession contracts signed during the previous administration are being reviewed to ensure a fairer deal for the rakyat. Nothing has changed and we are hearing none of that now.

Today, even the new highway contracts continue to be awarded based on direct negotiations with contracts and terms signed under a shroud of secrecy despite early promises of open and competitive tenders. It's just a case of deja vu over and over again.
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