KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg defended the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Kuching as essential for the state capital and real estate building.

Under fire for a potential white elephant project in the city of 630,000, Abang Johari told news outlet The Straits Times that transportation, roads and property development were essential to develop the state and attract tourists and investors — as in the case of Singapore.

“When Singapore left Malaysia, the late Lee Kuan Yew... and Goh Keng Swee had a very good model. What they did was change the whole of Orchard Road. Your EDB (Economic Development Board) really puts extra effort in your airport.

“Then you have your port facilities... When you have a good Orchard Road, tourism, a very important sector, will come in. People can see the future of Singapore through your airport,” he was quoted as saying.


The Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president insisted that a good public transport network was essential for real estate development and to extend development beyond the city, which would, in turn, attract tourists, expatriates and investors.

“People criticised me, especially about digital economies. When the pandemic hit, then they realised the importance of e-commerce,” he said.

The LRT or Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) system in Kuching consists of 52.6km of route and is expected to begin construction in the third quarter of this year, with a projected operational date of 2025.


He also told the news outlet of his plans to turn Sarawak into an investment hub for green energy and emerging technologies by 2030.

Rich in natural resources and large in land mass, the state often has a lack of basic facilities like piped water, electricity and internet connectivity to its rural outskirts, where the rest of its 2.8 million population are found.