Khazanah: RM650m not just for trees in Taman Tugu project

Artist’s impression of a bird’s eye view of Taman Tugu. — Picture courtesy of Khazanah Nasional
Artist’s impression of a bird’s eye view of Taman Tugu. — Picture courtesy of Khazanah Nasional

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The RM650 million estimated cost for the Taman Tugu project is not solely for the proposed urban rainforest park, Khazanah Nasional Berhad said today.

Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, managing director of Khazanah Nasional, which is spearheading the project, confirmed that the expected cost for the conservation of 1,000 existing trees and transplanting of 5,000 trees will only come up to about 5 per cent, or roughly RM32.5 million.

“The cost of trees alone is less than 5 per cent,” he said during the first public dialogue session on the Taman Tugu project.

Conserving and activating the urban rainforest park itself; walkways to connect the park with nearby train stations and Taman Botani Perdana; a planned learning and innovation centre will only take up about one-third each of the estimated RM650 million sum, he said.

Aside from these three components of the project, he said about 15 per cent is set aside for operations, maintenance, partnership and community development for 12 years, or up to 2028.

“On the question of cost, RM650 million actually covers all of this and actually everything is ‘up to’, it’s an allocation, it will not necessarily be used. If I may perhaps look at our track record over the years, I think we delivered our projects on time on budget,” he said, later noting that some of the facilities will also generate revenue for the park.

He also asked that Khazanah Nasional be given some “leeway” as it could not disclose the full details of the cost breakdown for now.

“The cost breakdown, we have given some details, I think the detailed details, I ask we be given some leeway; when you do contracts, bidding, obviously the amount you cannot give too much details,” he said.

“But yes, you have my commitment, transparency and all that, to make sure there’s no wastage, no nonsense,” he said, adding that there will be accountability.

In addressing a question on whether qualified contractors will be appointed instead of politically-linked firms, he affirmed the use of qualified firms while also highlighting that Khazanah Nasional had itself previously written the Red Book on Procurement Guidelines and Best Practices for government-linked firms.

“Yes, RM650 million or parts of that is a very large number, if you add up all the procurements of our various companies, it’s far larger than that and you know many of our companies have won awards for corporate governance,” he said.

Construction is expected to start as early as the first quarter of next year, with the park slated for completion in 2018, the walkways and learning centre in late 2019 or early 2020 respectively.

During the public dialogue session today, many had questioned the project cost and alleged misplaced priorities amid the government’s budget cuts for healthcare and education.

“I can’t really answer whether the money is better used elsewhere, that is a different set of questions,” he said at one point, but noted Khazanah Nasional’s continued commitment to education such as providing scholarships as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Earlier, he had highlighted a proposed public library as part of the learning and innovation centre at Taman Tugu.

A second public dialogue session with Azman will be held tomorrow morning at the Mercu UEM building with a limited 500 seats open for pre-registration on www.tamantugu.com.my, with further dialogue sessions for public interest groups to be held over the coming weeks.

Khazanah Nasional had last weekend said it is contributing RM500 million out of the RM650 million cost for the Taman Tugu project on reasons of corporate social responsibility and not for profit.

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