Tian explained the agreement was drafted in such a way that it gives Litrak virtually unfettered powers in becoming a money-making machine, with the government only having thumb-twiddling or nose-picking function.
Should we be surprised?
Tian then accused the government of “lying” when the latter claimed it was negotiating with Litrak to reduce the toll rates, because, according to the contract, the rates have been fixed under the agreement for the entire concession period of over 30 years from 1998.
Again, should we be surprised?
And don't forget, DAP leader Ronnie Liu told us UMNO-linked Litrak had already recovered its highway construction cost three years after it started operation and has been recording profits since 2002.
Tian Chua also revealed that the ‘secret’ document allows the concessionaire to continue collecting toll irrespective of whether the company is reaping profits or making losses.
You would be tired by now of my 'should we be surprised?', but alas, it still needs to be said.Well, in the face of such a damning barrage of criticisms, what has been the response of our so-called elegant PM?
He gave an inelegant response - in fact, damningly pathetic! Should we be surprised? (yeah, I know ...)
AAB said, beat this, the cabinet decision to allow the recent toll increase was based on representations by the concessionaires on their toll collection.
He claimed: "And what they proved to us, to the government, was that the toll had to be increased."
"... was based on representation by the concessionaires ..."? And the cabinet jumped to grant their wishes. What about representation from the public?
Then, there was AAB's assertion of "... what they proved to us ...".
However, when asked the obvious and logical question, for him to reveal the 'proof', AAB inelegantly attempted to bulldoze his escape by saying: "All are public limited companies."
What the hell has that to do with the public wanting to know how the cabinet came to approve the toll charge hike, based on so-called 'proof'?
If the cabinet was satisfied with the so-called 'proof' which is making us, the suffering public, pay more, then let’s see that 'proof'.
But he moved quickly from there to moan about the subsidy the government had to pay the concessionaires, that it was considerable and could not be continued.
Yet Dr Mahathir said the traffic flow through the toll had increased five fold, so why continue the subsidy, unless as Anwar Ibrahim had averred, the increased toll fee (or in our minds, more like extortion) was to hand out early ang pows and Christmas presents to a list of parasites.
Anwar, recalling his conversation with Humpty Dumpty in 1997, when he was then deputy premier and finance minister, said Humpty told him a highway concessionaire sought an increase in toll charges because the extra money was needed as inducements for unspecified individuals.
Anwar said: “He (Samy) still said it was important to increase (the toll charges), and I told him that he should resign (from cabinet) and go work for the company (instead).”
Following his rejection of Humpty's request, a ‘Tan Sri’ from the company appealed to Anwar for the toll increase, saying the company had to pay ‘leaders’ and their families from Perlis to Johor.
When AAB was asked about PKR claims it had a copy of an agreement between the government and one of the highway concessionaires, the PM threatened, of course tangentially to the issue of toll charge hikes, that the government could take action if the document was classified under the Official Secrets Act.
Pray tell us, Mr PM, why should a toll concession involving/affecting the out-of-pocket expenditure of the rakyat (people) be classified under the Official Secrets Act. Where’s or what's the bloody national security issue?
... unless the government imposed secrecy has been meant to deny the cash cows (stupid us) from knowing how rapaciously the government-concessionaire complex has planned to milk us, the long suffering public.