Joint Statement by Johor DAP State Assemblymen on 16th June 2017 (Friday):
Road users’ interest should be safeguarded and prioritised by government while two expressway concessionaires in Johor are facing bankruptcy.
The news that two highway concessionaires in Johor may go bankrupt caught most Malaysians by surprise. It is common knowledge that highway concessionaire in Malaysia is a lucrative business. Usually, the agreement is such that a concessionaire is guaranteed profit at a great cost to taxpayers.
Therefore, it is surprising for Malaysians to find out that the Eastern Dispersal Link Expressway (EDL) and Senai-Desaru Highway concessionaires are now asking for government bailout. Although Work Minister Fadillah Yusoff has yet to confirm if government will bail them out, we want to remind the federal government that the interest of the rakyat should always be top priority.
On paper, these two concessionaires have been branded as Public-Private Partnership projects. However, nothing can be further from the truth. The share ownership of the concessionaires revealed that these are actually government-linked corporations (GLCs) masquerading as private sector. Essentially, these are Public-Public Partnership projects.
For the Senai-Desaru Highway, YPJ Holdings Sdn. Bhd. which is fully-owned by the Johor state government controls 30% of the stake in concessionaire.
In the case of EDL, the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) is the biggest shareholder of MRCB, the concessionaire of EDL.
If these are Public-Private Partnership projects as stated by the government, surely the private sector would have done its due diligence to ascertain the risks and profitability.
Hence, it is almost confirmed that taxpayers’ money will be used to bailout the failed companies.
We urge the federal and Johor state government to come clean on this matter. Both governments should:
- Reveal and state if they have any financial commitment or corporate guarantee made to the two concessionaires.
- Make public the full concessionaires contract in its terms and conditions.
- Inform the people their plan to deal with the matter.
It was said that reduced traffic volume has affected the two concessionaires, leading to the financial problem. Why was this not foreseen at all at the beginning of the concession? Were the concessionaires or government too optimistic over the project or there were actually no proper feasibility studies done in advance?
It is best that in the future, the government should commission an independent third party to conduct a feasibility study for any project to avoid failure and wastage.
More importantly, the government should make sure that the interest of road users on these two expressways will not be sacrificed especially when the concessionaires are already intending to dispose of the highway assets. Johor road users know how bad the road condition is at Senai-Desaru Highway, while the EDL is a vital link to many motorists. Road users’ interest should be safeguarded and prioritised by the government.
Wong Shu Qi
Liow Cai Tung
Yeo Tung Siong
Chen Kah Eng