Mahathir Now Says It's Impossible For Highways To Be Entirely Toll-Free

The abolishment of tolls on highways was part of Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto.

Cover image via Aswadi Alias / New Straits Times / EPA

Pakatan Harapan's (PH) pledge for toll-free highways is unlikely to be fulfilled, as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir now says that it is not possible to have highways without imposing tolls

Tun Dr. Mahathir also revealed that he was initially against putting the pledge in PH's election manifesto

Image via EPA

Speaking to Bernama and RTM at the ASEAN Leaders Gathering in Bali yesterday, 11 October, he said that they "made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government".

"Now we are the government and this manifesto is a big burden," he added, as quoted by New Straits Times.

Citing England as an example, Tun Dr. Mahathir elaborated that the only way to have entirely toll-free highways would be to raise the price of petrol

According to news reports, Mahathir pointed out that England does not have toll roads, but the country imposes a heavy tax on petroleum. In the event that the price of petroleum increases, the tax will also be increased.

He also said that private sectors would be reluctant to maintain or build new roads if the government were to do away with tolls entirely, as they will not be able to make money from such projects. 

The prime minister had previously admitted that the government is facing difficulties in fulfilling its election manifesto:

In August, Works Minister Baru Bian clarified that the abolishment of tolls has been postponed: