One of the most spectacular things you can find amongst the politicians in Malaysia is the way they talk faster (output) than what their brain machines could process (input). Most of the government controlled-media reported news that the Cabinet has agreed not to raise the toll charges at four main highways, including the North-South Expressway (PLUS), Prolintas for the Ampang-Hulu Klang Elevated Highway, Skim Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (Sprint) and the Penang Bridge next year.
As a result, the government (or rather tax payers) will be paying RM242 million in compensation to the above four concessionaires. However, the toll charges for six other highways/expressways would be raised in accordance with the concession agreements; which include Seremban-Port Dickson, North-South Expressway Central Link, Kulim-Butterworth, Malaysia-Singapore Second Link, North Klang Valley, Johor Causeway and Bukit Kayu Hitam.
Analysts were quick to conclude (it wasn’t so hard to guess, was it?) that the “delayed” hike in toll charges was aimed at pleasing voters ahead of early elections especially after the PM Abdullah Badawi had tasted the medicine of inflation since his last unpopular 30 cents per liter petrol hike in Feb-2006. As usual the Works Minister who has been making fun and fool of the voters for the last 30 years was happily denied the link between the delayed toll hikes with the coming general election.
In fact during the local television broadcast the Works Minister, Samy Vellu, said the government was so concerned about the welfare of the people that only those expressways that have “very little traffic” were allowed to increase their tolls. Not bothered by the Sunday’s Hindraf Rally, Samy even cracked a joke that it doesn’t matter if the toll rates were to be increased to RM100 or 10 sen as the traffics are simply negligible. So, can the people conclude that these six highways/expressways are white elephants built without a proper feasibility study done?
Many ignorant voters who voted blindly for the current administration might have no clue as to why the agreements were so biased towards the concessionaires that it was as good as presenting a blank check/cheque. Could you imagine concessionaires were allowed to increase the toll rates indefinitely – at least that’s what happens to PLUS expressway. But you can’t blame the politicians since you allowed them to milk you for the next 40 years. So continue taking the bait and let the government have a good laugh again. At least Reuters was smarter and knew that this is one of the election goodies.
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