Calling all NGOs and Malaysians to join CAUTI in full force to fight unfair toll increase

Media Statement
Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Kuala Lumpur,  Tuesday): Leaders of various opposition parties and NGOs gathered at the Parliament House on Monday to form a coalition and to plan for immediate actions against the unfair toll increase (10% w.e.f January 1, 2004) which was endorsed by the Cabinet.

CAUTI (Coalition Against Unfair Toll Increase) is the second coalition formed by the opposition parties and NGOs in the country to fight unfair toll hikes; the first coalition called CAT (Coalition Against Toll) was formed in 1999. It was led by Mr Lim Kit Siang, the then DAP national chairman.

In the inaugural meeting convened by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok was unanimously elected as CAUTI’s chairperson, with Salahuddin Haji Ayub, PAS Kubang Kerian MP and MTUC Secretary General G. Rajasekaran as joint deputy chairpersons. Badrul Hisham Shaharin of Angkatan Muda Malaysia-PKR was elected as Secretary and he will be assisted by S.Arutchelvan of PSM. Other members include Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, PKR President and Permatang Pauh MP Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, Setiawan State Assemblyman Nge Koo Ham, Charles Santiago of Group of Concerned Citizens, Abdul Rahman Alli of Perak Consumer Association, DAP labour bureau deputy chief A. Sivanesan and Ronnie Liu, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief. CAUTI is still open for other right-minded NGOs to join as members. And the chairperson was given the task to invite MPs of the ruling parties to strengthen the coalition.

CAUTI has decided to draft a memorandum and proceed to get endorsement from other NGOs before sending it to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi on 27 December 2004. We hope all NGOs would give their full support to the memo and also participate in the scheduled public protests to be held simultaneously on Sunday, 26 December 2004 at 5pm at the Butterworth, Senai, Ipoh and Sg Besi toll plazas. Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng, Salahuddin Ayub, DAP Perak State Chairman Nge Koo Ham and Ronnie Liu were appointed by CAUTI as the coordinators for the four protests respectively. We hope all concerned Malaysians would come out in full force on the day to demand for deferment of toll increase, review of terms and conditions of the contract, revelation of the full contract, and greater transparency and accountability on the part of the federal government.

The case presented by PLUS managing director Idrose Mohamed to the NEAC yesterday was incomplete and simply inadequate to answer the serious doubts of the concerned citizens in general. And Idrose has also failed to provide any answers to the various questions raised by Lim Kit Siang and other CAUTI’s leaders, such as the hefty RM38 billion compensation if PLUS was not allowed to increase toll fees every three years, the secretive extension of toll collection from 42 years to 50 years, just to name a few.

CAUTI will be sending a delegation to meet Idrose Mohamed and his colleagues on Wednesday morning at his Faber Towers office in Taman Desa, Off Jalan Kelang Lama over the issue.

Malaysians should also remember how Renong’s chairman Tan Sri Halim Saad incurred heavy losses due to mismanagement of PLUS and other related businesses and still managed to get away without having to service government loans, and how a hefty sum was written off by the government in helping Renong to restructure itself. Malaysians have the rights to know why billions of taxpayers’ money was spent just to help out a single corporate tycoon, and in what way this tycoon was related to the ruling parties and government leaders. Malaysians taxpayers certainly have no obligations to bail out a single person just because he happens to be a crony of one or two very powerful government leaders.

Please join CAUTI to fight for better terms for all road users and consumers if we do not want to suffer another eight rounds of toll increase every three years.

Dear fellow Malaysians, see you at the Sg Besi, Senai, Butterworth and Ipoh toll plazas on Sunday.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief, committee member of Coalition Against Unfair Toll Increase (CAUTI)