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MCA: Review highway privatisation

PETALING JAYA, 7 Jan 2008: The MCA has urged the government to review highway privatisation to ensure it truly benefits the Malaysian public.

“The government should conduct an overall review on the privatisation of all our highways so as to ensure that they are aimed at benefiting the people at large,” said MCA spokesperson Lee Wei Kiat in a press statement today.

Lee, who is MCA Information and Communication Bureau chairperson, cited initial findings by MCA Youth in a study of the recent declassification of highway concession agreements. He explained the study deduced that the main aim of these agreements appeared to be to generate profits, and totally neglected the interests of both the government and the people.

This follows findings by a DAP delegation studying the concessions, which has arrived at similar conclusions. Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua, who is leading the team, expressed worry that this could become the model for future concession agreements.

On 6 Jan, Pua called on the government to nationalise highways, to lighten the financial burden of the people and keep toll charges to a minimum.

On 1 Jan, the government declassified 22 out of 23 highway concession agreements from the Official Secrets Act 1972. By 5 Jan, however, only 17 of these agreements had been made available to the public.

Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed has denied the possibility of highway nationalisation. However, commenting on highway operators who are already making profits, Zin said, “This is the moment for any concessionaire that feels it can give back to the stake-holders to look into it.”

Lee lauded the government decision to declassify the agreements as “the first step moving towards transparency.”

He also recommended that the Works Ministry disclose the agreements to the public without further delay. “This is to enable everyone the opportunity to read and study their contents,” Lee said.

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