East Coast railway means very little to Malaysia, says Liew Chin Tong

Railway link to the Malay heartland not worth the money says DAP

(The Edge) – The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) projects cost too much and mean very little to Malaysia in terms of connectivity and regional strategy, according to Deputy Defense Minister Liew Chin Tong.

In a statement today, Liew defended Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement on Tuesday while on a visit to China that the RM55 billion ECRL would be cancelled as serious transport planning had not gone into the project, which was hastily implemented without open tender by the previous government.

Also DAP National Political Education Director, Liew urged MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong to save his time defending the project and not ‘flog a dead horse’.

“The ECRL project is gone. To oppose to the ECRL project doesn’t mean that one is anti-China,” Liew said, referring to the attacks he received from MCA and some Chinese media in early 2017 for opposing the project.

“It is only when history is fully unveiled or when Najib or Jho Low confesses, that we will know exactly why the Chinese contractor plunged into the ECRL project despite knowing that it is a railway leading to nowhere.”

However, he conceded the east coast deserves better rail services, and observed this could be achieved through double-tracking and electrifying the existing Gemas to Tumpat line.

“To link it better, there can even be a line from Kuala Lumpur to Mentakab, tunnelling through the centre spine, to link to Gemas-Tumpat. In the larger scheme of things, Tumpat can also link to (the) Thai part of the Pan Asia Rail Link,” he suggested.

On the RM65 billion HSR, Liew expressed doubts about its viability, noting the passenger-only link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore would never generate the sort of traffic enjoyed between Beijing and Shanghai.

“I have doubts if HSR can even generate income to pay for operations, not to mention to have returns on investments.”

He suggested China and Malaysia pursue the idea of a Pan-Asia Railway linking Singapore to Kunming, adding Malaysia could expand its rail network for both goods and passengers.

“Having a freight train from Port Klang to China is a realistic and viable alternative to passage through South China Sea,” Liew said.