PH never promised to abolish tolls, says Mahathir

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SHAH ALAM: Pakatan Harapan never promised to abolish tolls, coalition chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today, calling it a misconception that arose from not reading the PH election manifesto thoroughly.

Mahathir made his observation while speaking to the press at the end of a two-day retreat for PH and Warisan leaders and MPs at a hotel here.

He spoke about how many people, even within the coalition, did not read the PH manifesto thoroughly.

“We never made a promise to abolish tolls, for example, but this is generally taken as part of our manifesto. There are many other things which are not read carefully and sometimes we get carried away with views of the opposition.”

According to the PH manifesto, Promise 6, with the title “Abolish Tolls”, says in part that:

“The Pakatan Harapan government will review all highway concession agreements. We will renegotiate to obtain the best value for money for the people so that we can take over the concessions with the ultimate view of abolishing tolls gradually. We believe that infrastructure like roads and highways are the responsibility of the government for the people.”

Speaking about the manifesto, Mahathir said PH had achieved some 60% of what was promised, with some promises completely fulfilled and some less so.

Asked about the controversial opening remarks by academic Zainal Kling at today’s Malay Dignity Congress, Mahathir said he did not listen to Zainal’s speech and would need to find out if he made the remarks.

Zainal, the chief organiser of the congress, had spoken this morning before Mahathir arrived and had said that Malaysia is for Malays, just as Thailand is for the Thais, China is for the Chinese, and India for the Indians.

His remarks have sparked criticism from politicians and others.

Zainal had also reminded other communities of the social contract they have with Malays, and said that Malays, who he claimed “inherited the country for over 5,000 years”, could always suspend their social contract with non-Malays.

Mahathir was also asked about calls to reintroduce the goods and services tax (GST). He said revival of GST was only the opinion of some people.

He said that when he had been asked by the press about it, he had said the government would consider if that was what the people wanted. “But consider doesn’t mean we will agree. We may improve on the sales and services tax (which replaced GST after PH came to power last year),” he said.

“But the press made it out as if we have decided to dump SST in favour of GST and naturally the opposition was so happy. Of course, the duty of the press is to make the opposition happy,” he said, jokingly.