DAP likely to control toll collection for 20 years

Following is an article published by NST Online complete with responses by TTF (in blue):

GEORGE TOWN: The abolition of motorcycle toll charges at three locations is the first step in the government’s efforts to scrap toll collection completely as promised by Pakatan Harapan (PH) before the 14th General Election (GE14).

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the PH government could not abolish all toll charges immediately because the country was facing financial problems due to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal.

TTF: This is a big lie.

The truth is, the DAP-led PH government could not abolish tolls due to the ridiculously lopsided agreements the Government of Malaysia (GoM) under Mahathir signed with PLUS back in the eighties.

There is, however, another reason.

To appreciate that reason, we need to traverse back through time to the year 1986 and understand how the lopsided agreements came to be in the first place.

That year, Mahathir privatised the construction and maintenance of the North-South Highway to his crony, Halim Saad, for a period of 30 years. 

But for unknown reasons, he got the GoM absorb construction costs despite letting Halim collect tolls for that period and agreeing to a 10% increment of rates every three years.

In 1999, due to public pressure, Mahathir extended the agreement by 12 years on condition that Halim did not hike rates for the next six years.

Then, in 2005, Mahathir’s successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, extended the agreement by another eight years to avoid further increments.

Three years later, to offset another scheduled increase, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak devised a plan to purchase PLUS Highways Bhd altogether.

The purchase was completed in 2011 and  gave the Ministry of Finance a 51% stake in PLUS through its ownership of UEM Group.

EPF, which helped finance the RM23 billion purchase, was given the remaining 49% stake.

An editorial that appeared on the 16th of November 2011 reads as follows:

UEM Group Berhad and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the new owners of the assets of PLUS Expressways, have waived their right to some RM6.5 billion in compensation in exchange for extensions to the concession periods for the Penang bridge and two other highways. UEM and EPF also said that toll increases for the North-South Expressway (NSE), the crown jewel of PLUS, will be lowered from 10 per cent every three years to five per cent at the same intervals, while the Penang Bridge will see no increase. The government owed PLUS billions in compensation due to the decision to freeze unpopular toll hikes that were stipulated in the original concession agreement, until 2015. 

Then, on the 30th of July 2018, Mahathir appointed Mahathir as chairman of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a Sovereign Wealth Fund owned by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

Khazanah fully owns UEM Group.

The fund has already acquired indirect control of Tabung Haji assets worth some RM20 billion that the Ministry of Finance parked under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) run by DAP proxies.

The assets come atop a one-off special dividend payment of RM30 billion from Petronas that Lim Guan Eng announced when tabling Budget 2019.

Not many are aware, that the RM30 billion is meant to offset losses in revenue due to the GoM’s decision to replace GST with SST.

That leaves Khazanah access to Tabung Haji assets that is set to be worth many times its current value when the toll concession agreement between the GoM and PLUS expires in 2038.

Using Khazanah’s 51% ownership of PLUS, Mahathir has been negotiating a swap deal with some quarters from the DAP.

The deal will see Khazanah gain direct control of the SPV under which the Tabung Haji assets are parked.

In return, he will give these quarters managing and directorial roles in UEM, roles that will see the DAP benefiting from the collection of tolls for the next 20 years.

That, in essence, is the second reason why the DAP is finding it ‘difficult’ to abolish tolls and the main reason Mahathir opted to become chairman of Khazanah.

The minute he announces the transfer of Tabung Haji assets to Khazanah, the Malay-Muslims will hail him as their saviour, not knowing that the DAP will continue ripping them off for the next 20 years thanks to the lopsided agreement he signed with Halim Saad in 1986.

“Abolishing motorcycle tolls at Penang’s First and Second Bridges together with the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link in Johor is the first step to completely abolish tolls,” he said after launching the Customs Department quarters lift upgrading in Bukit Gelugor, here, today.

He said the government would do its best to fulfil its promise to scrap all tolls.

TTF: Now you can see why all of this is nothing but bullshxt.

He said the government believed that Malaysia would be able to improve its fiscal position in three years’ time and become a high income nation.

“We never said that abolishing motorcycle toll is the end of it,” he added.

“We will continue with the effort.


TTF: You can bet your life that this isn’t true.

“If we can be in a better fiscal position than expected, then there could be more good news, but the people must also work together and not let any parties to divide them and cover up scandals.”

TT: This makes no sense, as the GoM already siphoned RM30 billion from Petronas to compensate losses in revenue owing to its decision to replace the GST with the SST.

Adapted from: NST Online

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