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APRIL 7 — Chronology of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL):
During the administration of Pakatan Harapan (PH), the government had reviewed and shelved various mega projects undertaken during Barisan Nasional’s (BN) administration. These include the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), whereby the excuse cited was that the government was almost bankrupt.
21 August 2018: Tun Dr Mahathir announced the cancellation of the ECRL and 2 natural gas pipeline projects.
20 March 2019: Tun Dr Mahathir announced that the ECRL project would proceed.
5 March 2019: During the Rantau state by-election, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng hinted that the ECRL would be rerouted to Negeri Sembilan.
Then came the new alignment by PH, or known as the Southern Realignment, starting from Kota Bharu, through Jelebu and Kuala Kelawang in Negeri Sembilan, and thence to Bangi, Kajang and Putrajaya before reaching Port Klang.
A close examination of the ECRL chronology renders it absolutely apparent that PH aces in politicising the ECRL issue.
Selangor state exco Datuk Teng Chang Khim and Negeri Sembilan state exco Teo Kok Seong have expressed their dissatisfaction emotionally and by populistically.
Datuk Teng accuses the Federal Government of bullying the Selangor state government and threatens to not cooperate on the issue of land acquisition, whereas Teo on the other hand, alleges that Negeri Sembilan residents have been betrayed.
In this context, a press conference was held in the morning of 7 April 2021 to discuss the various issues related to the ECRL.
Firstly, the ECRL 3.0 which was recently announced does not follow a new alignment, but reverts to the original alignment which was established by the BN government previously. BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN) will proceed with this alignment. The party responsible for switching the ECRL’s route was PH.
Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shahhas likewise expressed His Royal Highness’ delight after receiving a briefing by the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ir Dr Wee Ka Siong on the said alignment.
Secondly, PH altered the route simply due to the Rantau by-election. Back then, many had teased PH by inquiring, “would the route be diverted to Sandakan as a by-election would be held in that area? Or will it be rerouted to all towns as the general election approaches?”
It is obvious that PH assumes the ECRL as an instrument to retaliate whilst neglecting the real needs and interests of the country.
Thirdly, the BN-PN Northern Alignment has allayed the Selangor state government’s worries all this while, when a tunnel will be constructed to avoid the Batu Dam and the surrounding water catchment area, and the Gombak Quartz Ridge which is being established as a Unesco Heritage Site
Additionally, 5 terminals in Selangor will bring economic benefits to Gombak, Semantan and Port Klang.
The Transport Ministry had held 37 consultation meetings with the Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), representatives of the ECRL contractors and with 17 agencies in Selangor before deciding to continue with the said alignment.
Datuk Teng has shut his eyes to the economic returns which will be reaped from this alignment. On the contrary, he accuses the federal Government of bullying. We therefore challenge him to submit a complete, scientific and professional report to support his claims.
Teo’s allegations that PN had betrayed the residents of Negeri Sembilan totally do not make sense at all. Why doesn’t PH admit that PH betrayed the residents of Selangor and other states, when PH modified the route to enter Negeri Sembilan previously?
Therefore, we hope both of them will cease playing up populist sentiments, but instead be pragmatic in defending the rakyat and help to revive our nation’s economy.
*Jacob Lee Yee Yuan is MCA youth spokesperson
**This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.