So, how does Renong and PLUS rescue itself? On Sunday, the works minister and its public relations chief, Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu, provided the answer. He will defy the original government intention of not bailing out companies given privatisation projects; these were privatised because the government believed, stupidly and without properly thinking out the current Baskin Robbins' flavour of economic theory, that it had no business to provide services like an efficient road or health system; that private bodies could do it more efficiently. Nothing of that has happened in any Malaysian privatisation. All it has done is for the long suffering public being forced to pay more for reduced, minimal or no service. This is particularly so on the privatised roads, where besides the price-gouging fares, the government is also asked to pick up the large deficits of the profligacy of these concessionaires. Medical bills are beyond the average man. Education is priced out of existence.
Dato' Seri Samy Vellu plans to rescue several
concessionaires who allegedly lose millions of ringgit because of low traffic
volume. This is curious. A concessionaire would have done his sums before he applied for it; he should have taken into account all these factors before he submitted for them. If he loses, he accepts the losses. It is like a successful tender building public works for the ministry; is the government or the minister obliged to rescue him should his sums be so horribly miscalculated that he loses heavily? If he is not, why should the concessionaires?
What does this rescue package entail? Normally toll-free roads would be turned into toll roads. Particularly highways which should not be tolled highways are especially in trouble. Why should that be the concern of the government? The government subsidises PLUS and the North-South Highway when traffic volume declines. But the other highways do not have any such guarantees. The minister said as much in parliament and other forums at that time. Why is he now saying they must be subsidised, especially when it was under those conditions that they accepted, or fought for, the concessions in the first place. If the Konsortium Lebuhraya Butterworth Kulim Sdn Bhd and SPDH Sdn Bhd face financial problems, it is not the government's business to rescue them, as it is not the government's responsibility should Hooahhoo Sdn bhd faces financial problems.
Squeezing the people to rescue a crony company seems to be the order of the day these days. But Dato' Seri Samy says: "We are obliged to help companies which face such problems because we licenced them." Hooahhoo Sdn Bhd is also licenced by the government. Is the government obliged to help it? If the concessionaires cannot provide what it promised, the government should just cancel the concession and leave these companies to their own devices. The government is not obliged to be responsible for its debts. Now that the treasury is near bankrupt, Dato' Seri Samy Vellu is intent that the citzenry also should be. But then the people of Bolehland are there to be robbed blind, why should they then complain that the government helps these corporate robbers do only what is expected of them?