Sunday, February 11, 2007


To quote the most recent issue of our leading financial weekly, The Edge newspaper, "What's the big secret?" The Government has classified the toll and other utilites concession agreements under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), which if contravened, will require a mandatory 1-year jail sentence.

The problem is, while 4 leaders of opposition parties are facing the threat of prosecution under the OSA at this point of time, many others who have made equally 'damning' disclosures are not investigated.
Information contained in water and toll concession agreements is often readily available to investors and bondholders... While bondholders do not necessarily view the actual concession agreements, all vital information contained in these is presented to them through those other documents.

These secondary documents tell investors in precies detail what and when toll rates or water tariffs will be raised and what sort of compensation concessionaires are liable for men the government fails to raise tariffs as provided in the concession agreements.

Hence, given that the concession companies have themselves made the information within the so called confidential agreements "publicly" available to the "investment class", why shouldn't we, the taxpayers be "accorded an equal right to such transparency and accountability"?

As an example, while it's not a widely available public information, the "investment class" would have known for a while now that Litrak, the conession-holder for the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) is cash-rich despite it's borrowings and requisite loan repayments. It has been highlighted that Litrak has so much cash, it's like to return them to its shareholders soon.
Over the next 2 years, [Litrak] may have the capacity to undertake further repayments as its free cash flows increases, says AmResearch. The research house estimates that Litrak's free cash flows will increase between 16% and 18% by FY2007-2008 from 9.3% in 2006.

Litrak's earnings are expected to increase significantly in its financial year ending March 31, 2008, on the back of higher toll roates. Given the higher toll receipts, AmResearch estimates that the company's earnings will grow 64.8% to RM136.2 million in FY2008.
Such sharp estimates could not have been made without access to OSA-classified information, or AmResearch must have been irresponsibly plucking assumptions from thin air.

Of course, the fact that, thanks to our benevolent government, the shareholders of Litrak will have more guaranteed bumper years, at the expense of the rakyat.

Footnote: For more examples of such disclosure of OSA-classified information, check out the post by Sdr Lim Kit Siang.


Anonymous said...

Two sides of a coin:

1) Government impose OSA to silent public comment

2) Some bloggers delete visitor comment to silent comment

This is the actual situation of blogging environment in Malaysia. Government atitude is similar to bloggers , or should I say bloggers nowaday are having similar mindset.

The protest of "Silent in Cyberspace" should be initiated by public, not from bloggers who are using the same tactics

Yes, a very appropriate theme,a few lines from Human League's song : " Come one baby dry your eyes.. wipe your tears .. cause blogging is deceiving ..

Monsterball said...

The actual physical toll agreement documents may have been classified as secret, but the essential facts of the toll agreements had been distributed to many, many parties by the toll concession companies and their parent companies.
Many people within those organisations had access to the data. They used the information to raise bank loans, to back up rosy financial forecast filed with the KLSE, to stock market analysts to convince the public to buy their shares.

That's why when the information on the toll hike amount and timetable was exposed, it wasn't news to me. I can't remember where I read the information, but I'm very sure I had read it before....At most I would consider the information commercially confidential, definitely not a national secret....the bird escaped the cage a long, long time ago.

Anonymous said...

It's only a secret if someone's trying to hide something.

And I like the part whereby our YB says that even if we don't agree to the agreement, there's nothing much we can do about it, so why bother reading it in the first place.

I just wish we have some sort of impeachment process, whereby if someone who didn't act in the interest of the rakyat made some silly decisions, their head should roll, and don't take it literally (lest someone accuses me and you of trying to murder them...blah).

Anonymous said...

teh tarik blogger,
there are sufficient laws to define the actions of the ex-premier & his cronies on cronyism. Cronyism is a crime; it's also abuse of power, to give someone he knows preferential treatment in return for lining his own pockets. A lopsided agreement is already a crime by those in power. But whatever we say here, it's no use if we cannot hv a change of govt. we expect anwar to give us a Reformed Judiciary, reformed PDRM,etc.

I think all these OSA protection is to cover-up crimes committed by the govt. Just because that man was a pm or ex, or dpm, or some so-called VVIP doesn't mean he is not subject to the rule of law. He will be subjected in the same manner as the man on the street.