BALI: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says it is not possible to have highways without the imposition of toll collection.
The Malaysian leader was speaking to reporters on Thursday (Oct 11) at the conclusion of the ASEAN Leaders' Gathering in Bali.
Mahathir revealed that he was against the toll-free highways pledge in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.
"We made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government. Now we are the government and this manifesto is a big burden," he said.
"But, at that time, I was against it. I know, to have a highway … you cannot (make it toll-free to motorists). The only way to have highways and no toll is to raise the price of petrol."
Mahathir also asked who would maintain the roads, or build new roads, if the government did away with toll collection.
"You tell the private sector to do the roads. They want to make money, but if you don't have toll, how can you make money?"
Mahathir said that in England, there are no toll roads but the country imposes a heavy tax on petroleum and when the oil price goes up, the tax goes up even higher.
"So, they use that money," he said.
"But if you get the money out of the sale of petroleum, people who do not use the highway also have to pay. But here, (highway) users pay. This is our belief. The users pay; those people who are not using (the roads), why should they pay?"
Mahathir previously said the Pakatan Harapan government will need to review its pledges as some of them would incur great losses if implemented.
It is also his first engagement at the ASEAN level ahead of the 10-member group’s summit next month in Singapore.