MRT line rerouting a bid to ‘benefit’ 1MDB, claims DAP MP

Pua said the realignment of the MRT route will help 1MDB raise the value of its landbank. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Pua said the realignment of the MRT route will help 1MDB raise the value of its landbank. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — The realignment of the second Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) route to a new township on land owned by 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) shows Putrajaya is trying to favour the debt-ridden state investment firm, a DAP lawmaker said today.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said the Singapore's Sunday Times report yesterday on the rerouting of the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya route from the Cheras and Pandan suburbs  to the Bandar Malaysia township, which has yet to be constructed, will “significantly” benefit 1MDB.

“The sudden realignment of Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya route for MRT2 only goes to show that Putrajaya will go to the ends of the earth to bailout 1MDB,” Pua said in a statement.

The opposition lawmaker said the realignment of the MRT route will help 1MDB raise the value of its landbank, noting that the gross development value of RM20 billion has multiplied to RM150 billion after a “strategic review” conducted last January.

He also noted that the federal government will need to acquire land from 1MDB for the MRT2 line.

“If this were to happen, it would be an absolute travesty because 1MDB secured the Bandar Malaysia land, the current Sungai Besi airbase for a paltry RM75 per square feet,” said Pua.

“Given such immense increase in value the MRT2 realignment gave to Bandar Malaysia, as well as the heavily-discounted price the land was obtained, the government should not have to pay a single sen to acquire the land for the purposes of the MRT construction,” the DAP publicity chief added.

Pua said Putrajaya should impose a “substantial” development charge on 1MDB instead to be fair to Cheras and Pandan residents who are now denied the MRT line.

“The charge will go towards defraying the increase in cost of MRT2 as a result of the realignment, the cost of building the MRT station in Bandar Malaysia as well as to provide alternative public transport solutions for the negatively affected residents,” he said.

He pointed out that MMC-Gamuda, the project development partner for MRT2, has said that the realignment of the second MRT line will cause a delay of between three and six months and a possible cost increase due to longer underground portions.

“These underground portions cost more than 4 times the surface equivalents,” said Pua.

1MDB reportedly has RM42 billion in liabilities and previously missed deadlines to pay off interests on its debts.

The state-owned strategic investment firm is currently the subject of an investigation by the Auditor-General’s Department and in line for further scrutiny by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.