LETTER

Take a step back and review [email protected]

Lee Kim Chuan

Published
Modified 7 Jan 2009, 8:42 am

I refer to the Malaysiakini news report A new RM1.6 bil ‘budget’ airport and the subsequent letters Is there really a need for another LCCT? and New LCC terminal to be built with private funds .

I have serious concerns about this development and would like to share my thoughts. Although it is called [email protected], the proposal by Sime Darby and AirAsia is not just about a new terminal for the low-cost airlines. It has its own runway too.

How can we have two airports located so near to each other? Are there really no safety and environmental issues at all in this aspect?

Secondly, there are plans to connect both airports (by ERL train or buses) to facilitate passenger movements. But still, more time will be spent on these connecting journeys, not to mention the extra tiredness of the passengers. The passengers' interests are at stake and they could suffer the most from this development.

Thirdly, at least RM1.6 billion ringgit will be pumped in for the [email protected] project. We have to realise that private companies are not charities, someone will need to pay back all these investment monies one day.

The question is, who will? We as the passengers or the government using taxpayers’ money? Also, if we really need to spend the money, are we spending it wisely enough in the tough economic situations of today?

Fourth, KLIA is far behind Changi or Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi in attracting more passengers. We don't have the critical mass inside KLIA’s Main Terminal Building (MTB) or the utilisation of the twin runways at KLIA now.

With this [email protected] project, aren't we moving even further from achieving the dream of making the KLIA the region's aviation hub?

Fifth, the stakeholders are pushing ahead with this project (in fact, the construction will start as early as next month) with the reason that the current cargo look-alike LCCT cannot handle more passengers.

And they cannot wait for Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to build a permanent LCCT in three years' time (yes, we have the high-grade ERL track and soil condition problems but these can be fixed given some time).

So, was the government's approval for this new airport made in the interests of the people and the nation's future or was the approval given purely on a commercial basis due to a tight time-frame?

Sixth, this sticky situation will not have occurred if we have truly competent aviation industry planners working together with the authorities in developing KLIA. Someone should bear the blame and the costs for this problem.

Will it be the ones that created the KLIA Development Masterplan and the ones that approved it? Or, is this yet another case of ‘nothing is wrong’ actually?

My opinion is that the government should take a step back and review all the information again. If we can postpone the Penang Second Bridge or the Klang Third Bridge project, I am sure that we can also spend some more time to assess the viability and feasibility of the [email protected] project.

Sometimes, we must take a step backwards to make a leap forward. Public's funds may not be at stake, but the nation's interests are.

I just hope that this will not be another case of nobody realising the boiling water until the frog is dead. Developing the nation's infrastructure is good and I am not against that, but I am wondering if we are doing the right thing at the right time.