Concerned Southerner who regrets voting PH
In 2017, the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur air-route is the busiest international route in the world.
There were 30,537 flights between both cities in 2017 putting Hong Kong-Taipei firmly into second place at 28,887 flights.
With such great passenger numbers, the financial viability and passenger traffic of the now-cancelled High-Speed Rail (HSR) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore was never in any doubt.
Environmentalists will now be dismayed at this cancellation as the HSR would have greatly reduced the pollution, greenhouse gas emissions as well as accident rates of alternative forms of travel such as cars and panes which run on fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The extraction and refining process also emits pollutants.
High-speed trains, however, run on electricity, which produces no greenhouse gases at the point of use.
Pollutants only become an issue at the power plants generating the electricity. The plants may burn fossil fuels but the increasing use of renewable energy plants such as solar plants would mean HSR pollution would eventually be zero.
Imagine how much fossil fuel is used and how much pollutants that 30,537 flights now emit – not the mention those released by the cars and trucks now? This figure can only grow over the years now that HSR is history.
Currently, the journey takes anything between 4 and 6 hours by bus, and 70 minutes by flight. When transit times are factored in, the HSR was likely to yield time savings of up to 2 hours. Now this is lost.
During the construction phase, the HSR was expected to create 70,000 jobs and have an economic impact of RM209bil in Gross National Income.
It was also on this basis that our GDP growth projections for the next few years was raised. Now that the project has been cancelled, it is expected that economists will now reduce our GDP growth projections for this year and the following years while 70,000 jobs are lost.
After the HSR is in operation, a study by the research body Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organisation (IDE-JETRO) found that the HSR would have delivered a US$1 billion (RM4 billion) economic gain to Malaysia EVERY YEAR. https://www.straitstimes.com/
JETRO also said that the HSR would have provided a wider economic benefit via increase in other economic sectors such as property, tourism and services.
Tourism was expected to benefit greatly as the HSR was expected to be part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Now, the rail from China will stop at Thailand – immensely benefiting our neighbor while Malaysia is left out in the cold.
Furthermore, if the effects of other HSR projects around the world (e.g Tokyo-Osaka, London Paris) are anything to go by, the easy commute will serve to further integrate the KL and Singapore economies, bringing about further growth opportunities for both countries.
The Singapore-Malaysia High Speed Rail is more than just economics. It is a major step in the advancement of bilateral ties between the two countries. Now that Tun Mahathir is back, ties with Singapore is expected to worsen. The HSR was never going to happen.
On a more localized angle, the cancellation of HSR would also mean that the value of 1MDB’s Bandar Malaysia project which was to be the terminus station of the HSR would be greatly diminished – reducing the ability of 1MDB to pay back its debt.
Of note is that the current PH government seems to be inflating numbers at whim to justify its decisions. The national debt figure has somehow been doubled by them to over RM1 trillion while they now state that the value of the HSR is now RM110 billion – more than double the RM40 billion to 50 billion that both the Singapore and Malaysia government had stated just earlier this year.
While the whole world is moving to High Speed Rail, Malaysia goes the opposite direction basing its decision on misleading figures that they themselves inflate.
Is this a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish by the Pakatan Harapan government? Will this and other decisions handicap and jeopardize the future growth of Malaysia – particularly the southern states of peninsular Malaysia which would have had the most to gain from this HSR project?
It seems likely that this would be the case.
One cannot help but suspect that the current PH government is again playing politics and that its decision to cancel the HSR to further demonize the previous Najib Razak’s BN government and its 1MDB scandal, to reject warming ties with the Singapore govt or that it had succumbed to the airlines companies lobby who would no doubt be the happiest of all with news of this cancellation.