Thursday, May 29, 2008

A saga of greed

I’m sorry.

I simply find the whole Grand Saga business way, way disgusting. Maybe I don’t have all the facts, and just maybe I have my bias made up.

Perhaps a case may be made against residents who took the law into their own hands. But clearly some over-reaction and completely inappropriate actions by the concessionaire for the Cheras-Kajang highway toll must assume part of the blame.

Who’s right, and who’s wrong? Is it enough to wave a court order in the face of angry residents?

This to my mind is what happens when the federal government colludes with Big Business - and I don’t even want to speculate over the whiff of cronyism and all that is normally associated with our highway deals.

In the first place, a ‘concession’ is no gravy train ticket. It is not a singular right to unfettered greed and undiminished returns.

A company supposedly appointed to fix roads and maintain them is primarily tasked with doing good for the community and taxpayers. The cardinal rule of such a contract surely must be to put national interest first.

Of course it is hoped that in the main, it’s a win-win situation, so putting national interest ahead of one’s own pockets will not necessarily mean putting the company in the red. If they are not able to 'make a profit' perhaps such a company should get out of the business, not bend the rules, twist arms, bash heads, or erect barricades, to get the numbers they want.

Right now, the equation is in favour of Big Business.

Yet it is as clear as day that residents have been deliberately inconvenienced, completely ignored, and their plight as road-users and taxpayers disregarded.

So there’s a court order? It does not grant any party the moral high ground to do as they want at the expense of ordinary folks – for whom any concession holders are to benefit anyway. These are the very people who subscribe to the maxim that government is for the people.

Residents allegedly beaten up by uniformed policemen and FRUs? Now thugs have entered the frey resulting in brutal and bloody scuffles. Grand Saga executive director Zainal Abidin Ali said they’re not involved, and they don’t know who these ‘thugs’ are. Right. Some altruistic heavies who just happened to be doing Grand Saga a friendly favour.

Who’s Zainal Abidin? He’s the former Dang Wangi police chief.

What’s the police doing about all this? At the moment, not much that we know about.

Go on. That’s a fine way to woo back voters. It appears the recent lessons of GE12 haven't sunk in.

If governments only look out for the interest of businesses and their appointees, they do not deserve to be in power. When the government chooses to turn the other way and not look into the legitimate plight of common taxpayers, it is no surprise that these ordinary 'powerless' folks too will turn away and look somewhere else.

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