I call on Minister of Works Datuk Fadilah Yusof to explain the roles of Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia in the CIQ toll hike. Is LLM or even the Ministry of Works and, by implication, the entire Barisan Nasional government, a mere spokesperson for Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB)?
The Edge Weekly reported in its latest issue (pg 24, 38) that “MRCB may collect 20% more per month from EDL.”
The paper believes that MRCB is likely to collect RM13 million per month from the CIQ toll, far more than the erstwhile compensation of RM 11 million per month by the Federal Government since May 2012.
From RM2.90 collected by PLUS (one way), motorists now pay RM9.70 (inbound) and RM6.80 (outbound) from 1st August, i.e. an increase from RM2.90 to RM16.50, a whopping 480% hike. The extra RM13.50 collected goes to MRCB.
Minister Fadilah must explain whether LLM’s Director-General Datuk Ismail Md Salleh was sanctioned by the Government to endorse MRCB’s propaganda when he joined MRCB’s COO Imran Salim to brief media editors in Kuala Lumpur on Monday and regurgitated MRCB’s line of defense on the CIQ toll.
MRCB’s lines are simple: just stroking national fervor in the hopes of winnning the hearts and minds of Malaysians outside Southern Johor.
MRCB’s propaganda pits users of Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) against users of CIQ. The argument is that those who use CIQ are those who do not love Malaysia and choose to cross the Causeway to work in Singapore. Since they make big money by working in Singapore, they deserve to pay for other road users that drive on the EDL.
But consider these points:
First, why pit EDL users against CIQ users when Prime Minister Najib Razak promised that there would not be toll collection on EDL and there would not be toll hike on CIQ?
Second, the assumption that all who work in Singapore are well-to-do is not necessarily true. The entire logistics sector is affected by the toll hike which will have huge state-wide inflationary implication. Those who are on factory buses and other means of public transport are adversely affected as well.
Third, ultimately, if The Edge Weekly is correct, the CIQ toll hike is sucking away RM13 million a month from the disposable income of ordinary Johoreans. While MRCB increases its income from RM11 million (previous compensation from the Government which ceases to exist) to RM13 million, the brutal fact is that all the RM13 million comes from depletion of disposable income hence domestic demand in the local economy of Johor Bahru and beyond.
The consequence for the ordinary citizen is grave.
I have been told that MRCB has a war chest of up to RM10 million to spend in all sorts of propaganda and advertisement at both Johor and national levels to parade its “nationalistic” argument to justify its “right” to suck away the hard earned money of ordinary Malaysians amounting to RM13 million per month.
The question for Minister Fadilah is whether LLM and even the entire government is a mere spokesperson for MRCB’s propaganda effort.
Liew Chin Tong