Following the cancellation of the proposed Kuala Lumpur to Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, several experts provided analyses and opinions of the decision. Some favor the cancellation; others oppose it.
The HSR project failed to reach completion due to uncertain and difficult fiscal and economic conditions. Such conditions impacted both Malaysia and Singapore. Like the rest of the world, the two countries suffered much economic fallout as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Reasons to Support the Cancellation
Economists and experts offered various opinions regarding the cancellation. Dr Azman Senin, the Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Italy Design Institute (UniKL MIDI) dean, supports the cancellation of the project. Speaking to The Star, Azman said that Malaysia ought to review such a massive financial commitment at this time. He added that once the pandemic runs its full course, railway projects across the country should undergo a thorough study as well as a redesign in some cases.
“We need to re-establish our master plan to revive our economic activities. We remain strong in sectors such as oil and gas, palm oil, healthcare, retail, banking, infrastructure including railway, just to name a few. But the rapid introduction and development of new technologies are affecting our economic activities dramatically,” he said.
“With a revised master plan, we will be able to see the importance and contribution of railway projects, such as the study on HSR towards our economic development and supply chain.”
Azman, who also serves as UniKL’s Asia Rail Director, said that every railway network in Malaysia should provide ample connectivity and mobility for every passenger. He also called upon the government to consider integrating the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Express Rail Link (ERL), and KTM Komuter.
Reasons to Oppose the Cancellation
On the other hand, Patrick Tay, a PwC Malaysia economics and policy deals partner, opposes the HSR’s cancellation. He said that by keeping costs manageable and putting emphasis on the project’s rapid completion, many benefits would become evident. Tay added that the HSR project provided economic advantages in both the short-term and long-term.
“In the short-term, starting up the HSR’s physical development will inject a large sum of fiscal stimulus into the economy. It will create a lot of work, initially for engineering and planning consultants, then for those in the construction and rail industry,” he said.
Tay mentioned that construction of the HSR could provide a variety of economic opportunities. These opportunities would bring positive economic change to various cities and towns in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, and Johor.
Tay concluded by saying that the improvement of rail connectivity through the HSR would make businesses more accessible. He also cited several other benefits.
“(The HSR) will also likely result in improved economic activity along the corridor such as increased trips between cities, social (gain) in the form of increased links between communities, and environmental benefits from reduced carbon footprint per passenger kilometre travelled,” he said.
12th January 2021 15:51
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