Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Azwan Harun urged Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid to ‘be reasonable’ in the latter’s defence of raising toll rates. — Picture by Saw Siow FengKUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Profit-making highway concessionaires should reduce their toll rates as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, Umno Youth said today in a critique of next year’s planned increase.
The political wing of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s main party also ticked off Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar for his suggestion to car drivers to use alternative routes instead of taking the highways, describing the remarks by the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department as insensitive to taxpayers.
“I ask these concessionaires to prove that they are concerned, reduce the toll rates. In implementing CSR, it does not necessarily have to be through annual contributions. It is not wrong to do CSR by reducing toll rates,” Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Azwan Harun told reporters here.
He also criticised a planned review of public transport fares next year and asked power provider, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), to do their bit by waiving its electricity tariff hike for public transport companies.
The Umno Youth man urged Abdul Wahid to “be reasonable” in the latter’s defence of raising toll rates and pointed out that the highways that criss-cross the peninsula were the mainstream routes connecting cities and no longer used as an alternative to the trunk roads for most Malaysians.
According to Khairul Azwan, road users are already incensed that they have to pay tolls to enter the congested highways.
An increase to the existing toll rates will further fan their anger, he said,
“We do not agree if the remark was given by a Cabinet minister. This is not the issue of alternate routes, this is about justification,” Khairul Azwan said.
He added: “That is for the public to choose, not for you to tell them to choose.”
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar had justified the toll rate hike as unavoidable as it is an express condition in the concession agreement between the government and highway concession companies.
According to Abdul Wahid, the toll rate should have been revised in 2011, and as highways were alternative routes not used every day by the public the hike was therefore a fair measure for taxpayers.
In response, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin had said earlier today that he will bring up the series of price hikes in Cabinet, as it will affect most Malaysians.
The Youth and Sports Minister also said that he believed that there are other ways to tackle the price hike issues, highlighting knock-on effects from higher highway toll rates and electricity tariffs.
Meanwhile, Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli said today that Putrajaya can put off plans to raise toll rates next year since owning or holding major stake in toll concessionaires gives it decision-making powers.
In refuting Putrajaya’s claim that the hike was “unavoidable”, the PKR MP also said that the move is totally unjustified as toll operators are making “obscene” amount of profit with minimal cost.