Works Minister S Samy Vellu did it again. In the past couple of months, he has made many confusing statements regarding the payment mode at toll plazas involving the Touch 'N Go (TNG) system which is favoured by the government.
Yesterday, MCA-owned newspaper the Star published Samy's statement in its front-page report under headline 'Free flow toll'.
After much criticism over inefficiencies with the government's darling system, the minister is now proposing PLUS Highway "to consider introducing a system that allows electronic toll collection without having motorists having to stop or slow down on the highway".
He cited the Electronic Toll Collection Free Flow System at Melbourne City Link Road in Australia, Highway 407 in Toronto, Canada, and Singapore as example of the better system.
I bet no motorist with the right mind enjoy queuing at the toll plazas with the current payment system. (I queued for two hours to pay toll at PLUS' northbound Jelapang Toll during Hari Raya eve two years ago)
Thus, I welcome the government's move to ask PLUS (and perhaps other concessionaires) to switch to a better system like those in developed countries.
However, it appears to me that Samy has a short memory too. It was Samy himself who recently requested that all highway concessionaires to switch to the TNG system, despite being a backward system compared to other systems such as Fastrak.
In contrast to his own words, Samy yesterday reiterated that all concessionaires must abolish their system by June next year. If Fastrak service offered by Kesas, LDP and Sprint Highway is better, why should they heed to Samy's demand to abolish them for a backward system?
As a user, I believe that Fastrak should stay until a better system is available.
Unlike TNG, Fastrak does not require motorists to stop and certainly it is the most efficient system available in Malaysia to date. It is not only cheaper (compared to Smart Tag), but also proven to be efficient and convenient, and has auto-reload facilities.
We all know that reloading TNG prepaid value has always been a painful experience, and often, we see cars get stuck on its lanes. Hence, the joke: 'Touch, but No Go'.
If Samy has working mind, he surely can think better on how to make driving (and paying toll) on Malaysian highways a pleasant experience. Even if the government does not care for Malaysians, millions of tourists are using our highways. Pity the tourists!
Up to now, Samy has yet to explain the actual reason for the full implementation of TNG, which will not benefit motorists but only Rangkaian Segar Sdn Bhd (RSSB). The 'real figures' behind RSSB remains a mystery to us.
Is it true that the use of TNG is a tool to help ailing company Renong which is linked to political party Umno? Well, the elections are near and the party needs lots of money...
By the way, express lane Smart Tag is also a service provided by RSSB, but so few people are utilising it due to the hefty cost of acquiring a card reader.
If Samy really believes in a better system, then he must makes it compulsory for all the highway operators to install the free-flow system like those in develop countries.
Unless such a time, it seems that Samy only ' cakap tak serupa bikin ' (does not practise what he preaches) for reasons only known to him and his circles.