Battle For The Highways Mahathir Versus Lim Guan Eng
For that matter, another opinion claimed it is Tun Daim vs Lim Guan Eng.
It may seemed the same to the common folks, but to political economic watchers, it may not be. The current focus of Tun Dr Mahathir is to remain in power, but the twice Finance Minister, Daim view power differently with eyes slanted for opportunity.
In the past, the two may have moments where they are not in-sync.
Be that as it may, Guan Eng announced government plan to takeover four city highways from Gamuda and introduce congestion charges.
Public still see it as toll charges to remain. PH government still not honouring their election promises. Toll forever!
Almost the same time, Maju Group was back in the news to offer to buy PLUS again. Having failed before the general election under the Dato Najib and BN administration, Tan Sri Abu Sahid took another shot at it.
Guan Eng expressed disagreement with Maju's proposal and Mahathir seemed to react to put Guan Eng's highway takeover plan on hold. And, Guan Eng seemed to manouver to get Abu's proposal rejected.
At the same time, the battle for the highways may have taken another battlefront in the form of Utusan Malaysia vs The Edge.
Utusan Malaysia may be no match against The Edge on business matter and it getting to influence the public.
The paper has limited circulation and strength is politics, UMNO politics that is. But in this battle for highways, they are taking Mahathir side.
On Juy 2nd, Utusan published an article arguing that if government is unable to abolish toll roads, the least it could do is accept Maju's proposal which offer government to not pay any more compensation.
On July 12th, Utusan published an analysis to support Mahathir's decision to review Khazanah Nasional investment portfolio and revert back to its original role. It is the UMNO owned paper arguing for the divestment of PLUS to be given to Maju Group.
Under UMNO, Maju was rejected due to EPF and Khazanah opposition. Initially, Guan Eng said he is waiting for other proposals but used the same excuse to reject the bid.
And The Edge reported:
The Edge subsequently followed up with a report on Maju's sukuk bond.
One can safely presume The Edge is convincing its readers that it is right for Guan Eng to reject Maju because their financial situation is not strong enough to buy PLUS.
The Edge did reported Guan Eng saying government will issue bond:
That would only increase its debt instead of reducing past government's accused high debt, and still not abolish toll to convey the message the government has its ways and means to raise the almost RM6.2 billion to buy the four highways.
Gamuda concession buy ploy
The first person to raise issue on the takeover of the four concessions was Dato Kadir Jasin, an associate of Daim.
Mahathir long held the view that it is not feasible to takeover toll concessionaires.
In this case, it is better to let all the toll concession expired. The roads/highways must be toll free.
It smack of the same critic against extension of IPP concessions being extended through 1MDB schemes
However, IPP concession about to expire asset still useable but existing crony concessionaires asked to renew/extend concessions with the same term as last time. So cheaper for government to buy rather than extend their concessions or build new power plants.
The positive words by Tony Pua was seen by Isham Jalil as window dressing. Tony Pua's rebuttal of critics were shrugged of as talking big but can't even pay the principal amount of RM6.2b.
His idea is only enough to service the yearly interest. What happen to PH elction promise of "no more tolls" ?
There suspicion by certain quarters that Guan Eng is working hands in glove to assist Gamuda to be in a batter financial standing than Maju to buy PLUS.
Gerakan support to reject Maju raise suspicion of racism. However, it is not quite a Chinese versus Malay cronies competition for a privatisation contract. Gamuda has a Malay partner, a royal one in fact.
Guan Eng has not given up in extending his hands for Gamuda as The Edge reported today government intend to continue with the highway takeover.
Paul Tan's latest posting revealed the true intention behind Guan Eng's kam cheong ways to want Gamuda. Extract below:
Some argued that the finance ministry’s projected revenue, backed by congestion charge collection, may not allow for the acquisition to be self-funded as presented currently. “The whole matter (Gamuda proposal) is on hold pending a full review,” the ST quoted an unnamed minister as saying. The Singaporean daily added that the issue was causing friction within the Pakatan Harapan coalition government.
The same minister said finance minister Lim Guan Eng had presented the plan to the public and made offers for the concessionaires – which are linked to Gamuda Bhd – without the agreement of the cabinet. Gamuda, which is agreeable to the buyout offers, is leading the ambitious RM46 billion Penang Transport Masterplan. Lim was the chief minister of Penang before last year’s general election.
Tightening the "noose" himself or with new set of cronies?
The Penang Transport Masterplan could potentially increase in cost from RM27 billion to RM40 billion. CM Chow Koon Yeow acting strangely to be combative in his support of PTMP.
PAS Commissioner for Penang, Ustaz Muhamamd Fauzi Yusof saw Guan Eng's ploy as early as July 10 and it was revealed in his FB here.
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