Malaysiakini Yoursay

M’sians likely to get raw deal in high-speed rail project

Yoursay  |  Published:  |  Modified:

YOURSAY | ‘Singapore doesn’t need the HSR, it’s Malaysia that is pushing for it.’

Who needs RM40-80b high-speed rail?

Anonymous_40f4: The present Electric Train Service (ETS) at 140kph can be upgraded to 160kph for only RM500 million and can reach Singapore from Kuala Lumpur in three hours, which is fast.

This high-speed rail (HSR) is another mega project and we suspect it will be awarded to China Railway or another China company to allegedly contra for 1MDB’s alleged stolen billions.

Singapore allegedly doesn’t pay a single cent for the HSR. They only give permission to use their land for a little bit of the track and the final station, which we all believe will be charged to Malaysia by Singapore because unlike ‘kleptocracy’ Malaysia, Singapore is accountable to its people.

They don’t need the HSR, it’s Malaysia that is pushing for it.

Oxymoronictendencies: This cost does seem astronomical, along with the likely cost escalations, and inevitable large amount allegedly creamed off by cronies and insiders. Yes, it does lead you to ask "do we really need this?"

But writer P Gunasegaram does himself and his argument a body blow by hyperbole and selective exaggeration. When it suits his argument, he reduces travel times to zero. But then, to support his argument, the same travel time suddenly becomes 15 minutes.

If you are going to make a credible argument, Gunasegaram, then you best learn the use of consistency and not toss numbers around like confetti in the wind, none of which have any reality in Bolehland.

Twenty minutes to Subang airport? Really? Maybe at 2am. Variously 0 minutes and 15 minutes to old Sungai Besi Air Base? Which is it?

Oh, and while on that subject, isn't the old Sungai Besi Air Base now owned by 1MDB and slated for the Bandar Malaysia development? Now we begin to see the conduit for fudging 1MDB's debt.

Wong SL: We know that all railway projects in the world, except Hong Kong MTR, are not viable economically. Money made there was due to transit-oriented developments around each station for the HK MTR.

From the author's basic financial analysis, it is obvious then the proposed HSR will never be feasible. Only that Singapore will benefit the most, with minimum capital expenditure (on their island side only) but maximum passenger loads to bring in the economic benefits to their country.

The question is, will Malaysia get a very raw deal in the whole transaction? It will be good if the government can clarify how the project can be viable in the long run and what is the proportion of financial burden to be shared, taking into account the economic benefits accrued to each country. We may look like a fool later on.

Jonah 2: Indeed, what we need are broad-gauged tracks with rolling stock hitting close to 200kph from Perlis to Johor Baru and Johor Baru to Kelantan, Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur and maybe Kota Baru to Kuala Lumpur as well. Period.

HSR from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is a waste of time and money.

Anonymous_1371464888: Don’t know when was the last time the writer flew to Singapore. Flight time is not 35 minutes. It’s 50 minutes if no delay. Check-in time is 45 minutes before flight. Travelling to KLIA is another 50 minutes if no jam from, let’s say, Petaling Jaya.

Flying from Subang may save some travelling time but the average cost of flight is about RM600 for a round trip. Subang also has capacity problems. Turning Sungai Besi into a civilian airport will never happen.

Tok Jangut: This is a shallow and myopic article. I don't think Singapore is interested in Malaysians visiting the island republic. With the ringgit going to the dogs, not many Malaysians can afford to visit Singapore.

The objective here is for the rail to go to Beijing. And from China, a connection to the other places through the Chinese network. Hence, it will benefit people who travel to Bangkok, all the way to Beijing and beyond.

That is where the benefit will be to Malaysia. If Malaysia cannot afford the costs, ask China for the financing.

Anticonmen: This government cannot even build proper, efficient fast rail networks within Malaysia but wants to spend RM50 billion for a fast train to Singapore. Build a fast train from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan and the East Coast and a fast rail network within Sarawak and Sabah first.

Follow the example of countries in Europe like the UK, Italy, France and Switzerland. See how efficient their rail systems are.

If you do not have the expertise, get their experts to advise your allegedly poorly managed, loss-making, Malayan Railways or Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM).

When the British were running KTM, they had a very efficient, well-run organisation and a rail network that employed 14,000 people in the 50s and 60s that looked after the workers very well with reasonable or free housing, medical, recreation fields and amenities that were well-maintained.

Many communities grew and flourished around the railways' development. Football clubs grew and stars were produced from these recreational fields.

All these were reversed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad since the 80s, who demolished the housing and closed the recreational fields and changed the management philosophy of KTM.

The lands were given to cronies to build expensive apartments and towers and cramped shophouses for the poorer sections of society.

Today, KTM is languishing and the recreational fields are no more. Even the youths do not have fields to play, resulting in undesirable pursuits.

Legit: HSR is too costly, not feasible and not necessary. Instead, the double-tracking should be upgraded and completed. Other much cheaper options should also be explored. Saving about one to two hours for an up to RM80 billion project is a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

Furthermore, as Gunasegaram has pointed out, the current government is not capable or trustworthy enough to handle such a gigantic project and it may lead to another 1MDB type of scandal, only double its size.

The people in general should oppose it and the opposition should lead the charge for the cancellation of another potentially scandalous project that could again unnecessarily consume the country's energy for a long time to come.

Free and Fair Election: Whatever it is, I don't trust this present BN government to build anything without pocketing something for themselves. Let a new government take over and build, and then we will know the actual cost.

Anonymous #33227154: I agree with the views in this article. I hope Malaysians will see the detailed breakdown of how the money is planned to be used to build the HSR. Then Malaysians will have the facts to analyse and check.

Check and balance and transparency are two of the important pillars of good governance. If an extraordinarily expensive project like this is classified as secret and Malaysians can only rely on trust, this is not good for everyone.

After all, the ruling politicians are suffering from a serious trust deficit.

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These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

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