Three reasons why Cabinet next Wednesday should rescind its approval for the 10% NSE toll hike and to direct a two-month deferment - Samy Vellu had failed to fairly, fully and conscientiously convey the strong reasons for the unanimous opposition of MPs, Cabinet misled and Parliament must not be treated as an irrelevant “rubber stamp”
Media Conference Statement
- at the Ampang Toll Plaza in the CAUTI (Coalition Against Unfair Toll Increase) nation-wide protests against 10% North-South Expressway toll hike
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Sunday): On 14th December 2004, the Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu sought to placate the united opposition and anger of Members of Parliament from both sides of the political divide, the ruling coalition and Opposition, at another round of unfair and oppressive North-South Expressway (NSE) toll hike in the new year by promising to bring, what one mainstream media had described as, “a rare show of unity in Parliament” to the Cabinet’s attention the next day.
The next day, the Cabinet met and decided that the 10% NSE toll hike from 1.1.2005 stays. In announcing the Cabinet decision, Samy Vellu said that the government will have to pay PLUS RM154 million a year in compensation or RM38 billion over the next 33 years for not raising the toll charges by 10 per cent on 1.1.2005.
Wasn’t Samy Vellu aware of these compensation figures when the NSE toll hike was raised by MPs in the Dewan Rakyat a day earlier before the Cabinet meeting, and if so, why weren’t MPs informed of these shocking figures – or did Samy Vellu come into possession of these figures only after the parliamentary meeting?
In the past ten days, I had been challenging the veracity of these astronomical compensation figures and I am still waiting for a credible answer from Samy Vellu or PLUS, viz:
It is clear that Samy Vellu had failed to fairly, fully and conscientiously convey the strong grounds for the unanimous opposition of MPs to the unfair NSE toll hike to the Cabinet on 15th December, and for this reason, the Cabinet next week should rescind its approval for the 10% NSE toll hike on 1.1.05 and to direct a two-month deferment to allow a full and comprehensive public study of its far-reaching implications.
There is another powerful reason why the Cabinet should review its decision approving the NSE toll hike on 15th December – it had acted on false premises, as Samy Vellu had misled the Cabinet Ministers when he submitted that the government will have to pay PLUS RM154 million a year in compensation or RM38 billion over the next 33 years for not raising the toll charges by 10 per cent on 1.1.2005, a “tall” claim which the Works Minister has not been able to substantiate up to now!
The next Cabinet meeting on Wednesday will be the last Cabinet meeting for this year, and the Cabinet Ministers should be fully mindful that if they genuine uphold parliamentary democracy, they must accept the fundamental principle of the supremacy of Parliament where the Cabinet and the Executive must yield to the unanimous view of Members of Parliament – in this case, in opposing the unfair 10% NSE toll hike.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said at the Parliament Speaker’s Hari Raya Open House on the last day of the budget parliamentary meeting on 14th December 2004 that Parliament is not a “rubber stamp”.
This will be the third reason for the Cabinet to review its ill-considered decision to approve the 10% NSE toll hike, for in showing utter contempt for the unanimous stand of MPs across-the-board from both the ruling coalition and the Opposition in their objection to the hike, the Cabinet is treating Parliament as an irrelevant “rubber stamp”!
These then are the three reasons why the Cabinet next Wednesday should rescind its approval for the 10% NSE toll hike and to direct a two-month deferment to allow for a full and comprehensive public study of its far-reaching implications:
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was on foreign visits and not present at the Cabinet meeting which approved the 10% NSE toll hike, should place the review of the Cabinet decision on the NSE toll hike as the top Cabinet agenda business.
But will there be a Cabinet meeting in the last Wednesday of the year to undo the injustice it had been misled by Samy Vellu into committing on the 10% NSE toll hike issue?
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman