Cabinet, Parliament must block sale of PLUS to private interests

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PLUS' North-South Expressway - Photograph: Wikipedia

Aliran is concerned about the possible sale of PLUS Malaysia Bhd, the largest highway operator in the country, to private interests.

At present, the government, through Khazanah, owns 51% of the firm, while the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) owns 49%. The highway tolls collected thus provides the government and workers with a substantial return.

So the highways should not be privatised as private companies will want to take over these assets at the lowest price while extracting as much profit from tolls as possible.

Khazanah is correct to be against the sale of its stake in PLUS. In early October the Khazanah managing director commented about the takeover offers: “What they are doing is they want to take money from us by paying us basically a substandard price and using that difference in value to offer a discount…. If you were to allow a private party to take over PLUS, and that party suddenly made a lot of profit, people will be very unhappy.”

He added that Khazanah must ensure that strategic assets such as PLUS are not sold to parties whose only interest is in making profits, without considering the needs of the people. “If PLUS is making profits, it goes back to the government through Khazanah, or to Malaysians via the EPF.”

Even with an improved private offer from one of the private firms at the end of October 2019, Khazanah said its position not to sell remained.

PLUS, therefore, must remain in public hands.

The promise to lower toll rates in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto for the 2018 general election may not have been well thought through. That promise should not be used as an excuse to sell PLUS.

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The government should instead use the existing highway tolls as leverage or congestion charge to nudge more people into public transport, thus curbing greenhouse gas emissions in this era of climate change.

Furthermore, the government should use the profits and dividends from PLUS to finance, subsidise and upgrade public transport (instead of allowing these profits and dividends to end up in private hands). Improved public transport would ease the burden faced by commuters, who have to incur motor vehicle loan repayments, insurance costs, petrol costs, tolls, road tax and parking fees. The substantial savings for commuters would enhance their quality of life.

The profits and dividends generated from PLUS tolls will ensure steady returns for the government and for workers through higher returns on their EPF savings. (In this connection, the government should review PLUS’ high maintenance expenditure to see if it is reasonable.)

Aliran therefore urges cabinet and Parliament to block the sale of PLUS to protect the public interest.

Aliran executive committee
8 January 2020

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Hassan Brown
13 Jan 2020 12.06pm

This sort of thing is happening all over the World, ever since the Thatcher – Milton Friedman era in UK (1979 onwards). For example we UK citizens are about to witness the sale of the National Health Service to private enterprise, as a result of the public being brainwashed by the media controlled by the Conservative Party which won a huge majority in Parliament. This behaviour has been ruining the ordinary working people of UK since 1979 because people are lured into thinking that Free Enterprise (economic freedom) is better than Government control (economic fetters). But the Government is elected by the people whereas free enterprise means that those on the top of the tree make more wealth for themselves while ordinary people suffer.

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
9 Jan 2020 10.20am

Whose decision will prevail: POLITICAL LEADERS OR ADVISERS?
Your guess as good as mine but if sold would not the losers be the rakyat while those involved in the disposal may benefit financially?
Is it not a common world culture that where PERSONAL GREED OF THOSE IN POWER is INVOLVED the WINNER is always the GREEDY IN POWER though may be justified to the ordinary citizens that it is for their benefit and this is believed as the same leaders get elected repeatedly?
WAS THE VALUE OF THE MILLIONS OF TEAK TREES TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN THE VALUATION?

Ravi Nair
Ravi Nair
9 Jan 2020 7.01am

The selling of PLUS is just to make another group of cronies SUPER richer.
It has nothing to do to benefit the nation or its people.
Unless the new bidder is willing to put in writing;
1. Immediate Reduction of 50% in toll.
2. No increase in Toll for the next 50 years.

Will they??????

Even after 50 years almost all GLC & GLIC is still running a lost due to corruption & mis management. Almost 80% of this nation’s population knows this nonsense.
When will the Government ever learn….