LETTER | The Transport Ministry confirmed on Sept 8 that the Perikatan Nasional government is seeking another renegotiation to the ECRL alignment.
Minister Wee Ka Siong said that the realignment “has the potential to lower project costs and reduce the amount of time required”.
We welcome the current government’s intention to lower the cost of the project. However, we call on the government to provide the public with a feasibility study that comprehensively shows that the proposed realignment exercises will indeed lower costs and save time.
Large infrastructure projects such as the ECRL require a significant amount of public funding. The government must ensure that the decisions around these projects are based on achieving value for money and high-quality service delivery, while supported through comprehensive feasibility studies.
These studies should also be published as part of a robust assurance process. The failure to disclose them undermines evidence-based decision making.
Internationally accepted standards for transparency require the government to publish key project information such as the estimated project budget, necessary land and property acquisition, price of materials, environmental impacts, and mitigation measures that would be available through the publication of feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments (EIA).
In 2019, the Pakatan Harapan renegotiated the project to reduce the cost of the project. Months of negotiations indeed resulted in a project cost reduction of RM21.5 billion and a significant realignment of the ECRL including the now contested Section C portion.
However, Harapan did not complete the EIA required by the Environmental Quality Act 1974 nor did it publish the feasibility study for this section of the track.
The significant cost reduction from RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion had been based on a comprehensive value engineering exercise, but no such report on the exercise had ever been published to the public either.
This is a perfect opportunity for the current government to demonstrate higher transparency standards than the previous two administrations.
Providing comprehensive information on large infrastructure projects that abide by international standards will set PN apart from its predecessors, and set a good example within the region as well.
The writer is the CEO of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.