“Maybe Tun M can explain why he gave away this money-printing machine”
(Malaysian Digest) – Starting next month, the Express Rail Link will raise its fees by a whopping 57%, an outrageous increase that no one can do anything about it but dig deeper into their pockets to come up with the RM55 fare.
Although it is a government-linked company, the federal government is unable to do anything to stop the hike in fares unless it wants to pay ERL an astounding RM2.9 billion in compensation upfront.
Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) recently highlighted this dodgy concession deal inked during former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad years in power which he alleged is virtually a “money-printing machine”.
“What is not so hotly discussed is Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL), a company that is also controlled by YTL — another money-printing machine that owns and operates the rail service between the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and KL Sentral.
“The entire construction of ERL was awarded to a joint venture between Siemens and Syarikat Pembinaan Yeoh Tiong Lay Sdn Bhd (SPYTL). This means YTL also made money from the construction work,” RPK pointed out the multiple profits raked in by YTL in this joint venture.
What was more appalling was the terms of the concession agreement which RPK revealed held the government hostage to a guaranteed payment scheme to ERL and was practically a “money-printing machine” that Tun M gave away.
“RM5 from the airport tax for each KLIA international passenger has to be paid to ERL whether the passenger uses the ERL or not. Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) has been paying this RM5 per person charge to ERL since April 2002.
“Since April 2008, the government started compensating MAHB for the amount it is paying ERL to prevent MAHB from losing money due to this ERL concession agreement.
“Maybe Dr Mahathir can explain why he gave YTL this money-printing machine after the many other money-printing machines he gave them, the IPP amongst them. And why is DAP keeping quiet about this matter? Is it because, as people are saying, DAP is receiving generous ‘donations’ from YTL?” RPK raised this pointed question.
Earlier in his closing speech at the UMNO general assembly earlier this month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had touched on the ERL fare hike as a Tun M era legacy that he had tried to contain the damage until now, otherwise the government will have to find RM2.9 billion to handover to ERL Sdn Bhd, a company that YTL is a majority shareholder.
“People are angry because the fare has risen from RM35 to RM55. But gentlemen, you do not know, the agreement was signed in 1997. Not this year. 1997. Long-term concession.
“It was signed in 1997 with YTL Corporation. I would describe the agreement as one-sided. The fare is based only on projected traffic, and in the agreement it must rise every five years,” Najib explained.