Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on
Wednesday, 19th November 2008:
Peoples' power reigns in the
decision to declassify highway concessions
I applaud the decision by the government
to declassify the highway concession contracts. This move could be the
first and important step towards good governance, accountability and
transparency in the country.
This decision is a clear victory for the people and would not have come
about without the constant pressure by non-governmental organizations,
political parties and trade unions. In 2007, a series of demonstrations
were organized in IOI mall, Sunway Pyramid and Gombak toll to protest
against toll hikes and make public the concession agreements.
Although the protesters were arrested and the government threatened to
use the Official Secrets Acts against opposition leaders, a reversal of
the policy aptly indicates that the peoples' power would prevail.
The demand, by Malaysians, for greater democratic rights and
transparency following the unprecedented electoral gains made by the
opposition at the March general election is another compelling reason
for this decision.
The government has long been criticized for cloaking these agreements in
a veil of secrecy.
I, however, would like to point out that there should be no exception
made for the KL-Putrajaya Expressway (KLPE) and urge the government to
come clean with the contract records.
All efforts must be made to compel highway operator Maju Expressway
Berhad (which manages KLPE) to comply with the cabinet directive, in the
event the company refuses to do so.
I also urge the Selangor state government to declassify all
privatization contracts, especially the recent controversial new Klang
bus station project.
I am yet to receive a response despite having publicly urged the
Selangor state government to disclose all information relating to the
new Klang Bus Station contract at a dialogue with Klang Citizens.
All Pakatan Rakyat state governments
should follow the federal government's unprecedented decision and also
implement the concept of Competency, Accountability and Transparency
(CAT), in line with our electoral promise.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang