Bat Journalism

“As blind as a bat.”

That is how I would describe most journalists today. They never understand not a scintilla of what they write but they write them anyway. Corrections can be made later no matter if the damage has been done and is irreversible.

The latest intentional or unintentional faux pas is about the PLUS highway concession, quoting Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Sirlin in her answer to a supplemental question from Datuk Ahmad Fauzi Zahari (BN – Setiawangsa). One portal reported:

  
The report above is as if the decision for a toll hike every whatever the number of years set in the agreement. What the portals have not mentioned is that it is up to the government to allow any toll hike after all concerns have been weighed. 

Of course you have opportunistic baboons such as Tony Puaka to further add to the confusion:

  
The actual answer by the Deputy Minister is as follows:

1.​Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (PLUS) telah mula dibina pada tahun 1989 dan siap pada tahun 1994 dengan kos sebanyak RM5.9 bilion. Kos projek ini ditanggung sepenuhnya oleh syarikat konsesi PLUS, kecuali kos pengambilan tanah yang ditanggung oleh Kerajaan. Berdasarkan perjanjian konsesi tambahan terkini (2011), tempoh konsesi Lebuhraya PLUS akan tamat pada 31 Disember 2038. Setakat ini Kerajaan tidak ada perancangan untuk melanjutkan lagi tempoh konsesi tersebut.

 

2.​Dalam tahun 2011, PLUS telah melaksanakan pengstruktaran semula dimana PLUS terpaksa membuat pinjaman sejumlah RM30.6 billion melalui penerbitan bon. Bayaran balik faedah pinjaman telah mula pada tahun 2012 manakala bayaran pokok hanya akan bermula pada tahun 2017 sehingga 2038.

 

3.​Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, syarikat PLUS merupakan pemegang konsesi bagi 6 lebuh raya iaitu:

 

• Lebuhraya Utara Selatan

• Lebuhraya Lingkaran Tengah ELITE

• Lebuhraya LINKEDUA

• Jambatan Pulau Pinang

• Lebuhraya Butterworth Kulim

• Lebuhraya Seremban Port Dickson

 

4.​Melalui penstrukturan semula pada tahun 2011, hasil keuntungan terkumpul pemegang konsesi Lebuhraya PLUS sehingga 2014 adalah RM26 juta. Secara puratanya, 50% daripada hasil keuntungan adalah digunakan untuk membayar balik faedah pinjaman. Syarikat PLUS telah membuat pinjaman melalui penerbitan bon berjumlah RM30.6 bilion. Pinjaman ini dibuat pada tahun 2011 semasa penstrukuturan PLUS Berhad.

 

5.​20-25% digunakan untuk membiayai kos operasi dan penyenggaraan, ini termasuk lebih kurang 25% jajaran yang tidak dikenakan tol.

 

6.​15-20% adalah untuk kerja-kerja upgrading, termasuk pembinaan persimpangan bertingkat Sungai Buaya, Bukit Gambir, Kuala Kangsar, Ainsdale dan kerja-kerja naiktaraf Lorong Keempat Lebuhraya Utara Selatan.

 

7.​Baki 10% adalah untuk bayaran balik kepada pemegang saham yang terdiri daripada KWSP (49%) dan Khazanah (51%).

 

8.​Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat juga, perjanjian konsesi PLUS telah mengalami penstrukutran semula kadar tol sebanyak 4 kali iaitu pada tahun 1999, 2002, 2005 dan 2011 di mana kadar tolnya telah mengalami beberapa perubahan daripada penggunaan Consumer Price Index (CPI), 26% setiap 5 tahun pada tahun 1999 dan kepada 10% setiap 3 tahun pada tahun 2005 dan akhir sekali pada tahun 2011 di mana kenaikan kadar tol diselaraskan kepada 5% setiap 3 tahun.

 

9.​Kadar tol PLUS tidak dinaikkan sejak tahun 2005. Dalam penstrukturan semula kadar tol tahun 2011, tiada kenaikan tol sehingga 2015. Manifesto PRU 13 BN menetapkan pengurangan kadar tol secara berperingkat lebuh raya Antara Bandar. Sehubungan dengan itu, Kerajaan akan berunding dengan syarikat konsesi bagi memenuhi akujanji manifesto tersebut.

 

10.​Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat juga, jajaran Lebuhraya Utara Selatan bermula dari Bukit Kayu Hitam hingga ke Johor adalah sepanjang 848km. Lain-lain lebuhraya ELITE (63km), BKE (17km), SPDH (23km), JPP (13.5km).

 

11.​Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, jumlah keuntungan selepas cukai PLUS Berhad bagi tahun kewangan berakhir 31 Disember 2014 ialah sebanyak RM8.4 juta, iaitu mengambikira PLUS Berhad sebagai entiti korporat tunggal yang mengendalikan 5 lebuhraya selepas pengstrukturan semula PLUS mulai bulan November 2011

PLUS operates six highways with a total distance of 964.5km. PLUS has not had a toll increase since 2005. As a result of a restructuring exercise in 2011, PLUS has had to raise RM30.6 billion through bonds issuance. 50 percent of its profit since then has gone to the payment of loan interest while 20 to 25 percent has been allocated for the operations and maintenance of the highways, 15 to 20 percent to upgrading works, while the balance of 10 percent has gone to the payments to the shareholders i.e KWSP and Khazanah.

The above profit was at RM26 million (2014).

What we must also remember, because the toll concession agreements are all legacies of a certain former Prime Minister, the original agreement allowed for a hike of 10 percent every three years. The current Prime Minister initiated for the takeover and has had the agreement renegotiated in 2011 to a hike of 5 percent every three years. However, there has been no hike since 2005.

And if I understand the statement correctly there will not be any automatic hike and that the government is committed in reducing intercity toll rates until 2018.

Blind dingbats who call themselves journalists should act more responsibly when reporting. Sensationalism sells, but that only goes to prove that you are just another opportunistic baboon like Tony Puaka.

Friday Fools

The recent hike in toll prices have riled users up, including those who have no qualms about spending RM13.80 on a packet of Dunhill cigarettes daily; queued 30 hours for an iPhone 6s rose/gold version; and spend a ridiculous amount of money for Starbucks’s Macchiato Frap.

And they blame Najib for the increase on toll rates.

Virtually all the concessions agreement were signed during Mahathir’s time, and for some like the Maju Expressway, built by Abu Sahid, a good friend of Muhyiddin and crony of Mahathir, and the Senai Desaru Highway built by Ranhill’s Hamdan Mihamad were built in 2004. Both had their concession agreement signed before Mahathir stepped down. The Senai Desaru Highway had its Development Order signed in the late 1990s.

PLUS’s North South highway was built initialy by the government via Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia. Planned during Tun Hussein Onn’s time in 1977, it began construction in 1980, a year before Mahathir became the PM.

Between 1980 and 1985, the LLM built 366km or 41% of the proposed 823km of the highway at a cost of RM3.2 billion borne by the government.

  
In 1986, the whole project was transferred  to UMNO-crony, Halim Saad’s UEM, despite being the most expensive bidder and having had no experience whatsoever in constructing highways.

  
In the end the highway was delivered two years late and the government then had to finance half of the RM3.5 billion budget.

Yes, our money for half of that RM3.5 billion budget. In fact, it was RM1.65 billion.

If you think that that was a bad deal, try swallowing this: we also now have to pay 30 years of toll, and also pay 10% of the bill every three years if tolls are not allowed to be increased. This is reminiscent of the rip-off IPP deal that Mahathir gave YTL that agreement has ended and not renewed by the Najib administration.

In 2011, Najib’s administration took over PLUS from private hands, restructured the deal and avoided future toll hikes. The government owns 51% of PLUS while 49% is owned by the EPF.

All the concession agreements are now no longer being subjected to the Official Secrets Act. I am sure there is a link somewhere where we can view these agreements and the terms given to the concessionaires. However, MEX has this far declined to open up its concession agreement and we must all call for the agreement to be made public as it affects us all.

This brings me to remember what Miss Lim Sian See wrote a few months ago:

Dear Siti Nurhaliza (always wanted to write to her), the PEMUDA UMNO, Pakatan leaders, Tan Sri Muhyiddin, Khairy Jamaluddin dan yang lain lan penyokong Tun Dr M,


If I may seek your passion again, sirs and madams,


The last few days, you people have demanded to seek the truth about the Tabung Haji land purchase from 1MDB as you say it is shameful, putting Haji money at risk, against Agama, etc – with a vengeance and with a vigor thus far unseen.


Now, Malaysia Insider (not always correct nor 100% truthful, I must admit) has bongkar certain Lembaga Tabung Haji deals that seems to be clear bail-outs of the Maju group that has actually caused losses of depositor money. http://tinyurl.com/lmuaz45


These are the allegations by Malaysia Insider (citing Wall Street Journal) regarding Tun M’s govt bailing out private companies using Tabung Haji Money.


1) 1996,- LTH invested RM67m with Maju Holdings project in Johor – only for the project to immediately run into trouble: 


Total loss to Tabung Haji: RM67m


2) 1998 – LTH paid RM436.38 million to Maju Group for two then uncomplete properties valued at RM267.92 million. 


Total loss to Tabung Haji: RM168.46m

Other allegations include: 
-The chairman of Tabung Haji then was Tun M’s brother in law, the late Tan Sri Ahmad Razali Mohamed Ali – a clear case of nepotism.

– Immediate upfront payment RM220 million for a building yet to start construction even though Treasury guidelines only allow maximum of RM5 million – which was 15% value of the construction work.

—-

Let me highlight the differences between the deals then and now for you:


1) MAJU HOLDINGS deals of he 1990s – Tabung Haji paid RM504 million to a PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL COMPANY for assets professionally valued at RM267.92m – causing REAL LOSSES to TH of RM235.5m


2) 1MDB TRX deal of the 2015 – Tabung Haji paid RM188.5 million to a 100% GOVT-OWNED COMPANY for assets professionally valued at RM195 million (and secured further with another asset worth RM370m) . But will soon sell off at a PROFIT to TH for a few million.


See the difference?


Tun M time: 

One is LOSSES to TH and payment by TH to a private company- money never to be recovered for assets worth less than half of what was paid.


Najib time:

One is PROFIT to TH and payment by TH to a 100% GOVT company – money – money that will immediately be recovered within a week for assets worth more than was paid.

`

I am just asking you all to be fair and use the same enthusiasm, venom and vigor to seek the kebenaran on the Tun M era deals.


You have asked MACC, AG, PDRM to investigate 1MDB and TH and Najib. 


Just to be fair, can you please also ask MACC, AG (actually already investigated and found wrong-doing), PDRM to investigate Maju and TH and Tun M?


And if Tun M is guilty as accused (or refuses to answer) then please condemn him as much as you have condemned others and please never again side with him.


Also find out who is responsible but make sure you ask about the case where Tabung Haji lost money and not the one where it made money.


Please be fair and act fairly – or be considered hypocrite.


Have no fear.

I rest my case.

Populism Does Nothing

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that there will not be any toll rates hikes for 2014. To BN supporters, this is a form of a coup de grace to the speculation made by the Opposition that there would be a toll rates hike. As a sacrifice, the government will have to fork out RM400 million to pay the toll concessionaires.

If I may shoot the euphoric atmosphere down, the announcement does not guarantee that there would not be a hike post 2014, and road users such as I will still have to grind our teeth in expecting the imminent.

The move, to me, is just another attempt at improving the government’s popularity rate especially that the support for Najib Razak’s government is at its lowest I was told. In short, this is another short-sighted and myopic plan to win the people’s support.

What the Najib government may not realise is that only people in Kuala Lumpur live having to pay toll commuting to work or to get from one point to another on a daily basis. Using RM400 million of taxpayers’ money for the benefit of only nine percent of the population has to be one of the silliest plans ever. People in Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak hardly pay any toll.

How the RM400 million would probably benefit all is by pumping the amount into fuel subsidies which would have made more sense to a layman like me. I spend RM600 on an average month on petrol. I just wish Najib would kick his useless advisers out for daring to even suggest such a stupid scheme.