|S Pathmawathy (MKini)
6:52PM Mar 26, 2012
The opposition has warned the government against rushing through the proposed plan to construct a rapid transit system (RTS), which include an underwater tunnel and a bullet train to Singapore, as it may result in another failed initiative without comprehensive consultations.
Pakatan Rakyat parliamentarians said the “privately funded initiative (PFI), estimated to cost RM30 billion if implemented all at once” can result in another government bailout.
“The government says that the project is not a priority and feasibility studies are being conducted, but suddenly they will announce commencing the project and appoint someone to do it,” said Kuala Selangor PAS MP Dzulkefly Ahmad (left).
“Even the double-tracking rail project has not even been completed, but we are looking at the RTS, and now we are talking also about the bullet train – how much money do we have right now?”
Dzulkefly said that the proposal bore stark resemblance to the assurance given by the government when the mass rapid transit (MRT) was mooted.
“I heard this is also a PFI but I am quite sure, like many others, the Klang Valley MRT when it was initiated… it was claimed to be a privately funded initiative, driven by domestic investments but finally it is now undertaken and underwritten by the government,” said Dzulkefly.
Earlier today, Tebrau BN MP Teng Boon Soon asked on the progress made on the proposed project and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Ahmad Maslan replied that the project was not a priority to the government.
“Today, we hear from the deputy minister that concurrent with that, the cabinet and the prime ministers from both sides (Singapore and Malaysia) are discussing the RTS,” said Dzulkefly.
He argued that the opposition is not opposed to improving the country’s public infrastructure and transportation system but the “mad rush” is resulting in massive losses to the government.
“We failed in the first round with our other rail systems… all privatised and then we bailed them out.
“So now we want it transparent and public consultations done early and not at the point of awarding the tender, because this will end up with the government sustaining an even greater debt,” he said, adding that the proposed project was untenable.
Indera Mahkota PKR parliamentarian Azan Ismail (right) said things could go worse if the project is cancelled halfway through implementation, in the event it is regarded to be unfeasible, like the now-scrapped Malaysia-Singapore “crooked bridge” project.
“We urge the government to be cautious and not repeat the same mistakes,” said Azan.
Dzulkefly added the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad) should assume responsibility and display the project’s detailed blueprints instead of coming up with piecemeal proposals.