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Bullet train project heading for a bailout?

 | March 26, 2012

PAS’s Dzulkefly Ahmad warns that taxpayers may end up paying for the proposed KL-Singapore high-speed rail project

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat worries that the government will eventually have to spend billions bailing out the company that will undertake a proposed high-speed rail link project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad of PAS asked why the government was pushing to build a bullet train track between the two cities when work on a double-track link of the same length had not even been completed.

Speaking to reporters covering Parliament today, he warned that the proposed project ran the risk of ending up like the My Rapid Transit project, which was mooted as a private project but has since been taken over by the government.

This morning, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister Ahmad Maslan told the Dewan Rakyat the government was currently conducting feasibility studies to determine the risks involved in the bullet train project.

He said this in response to Teng Boon Soon (MCA-Tebrau), who asked for details of the project as well as another to construct a mass transit system between Johor Baru and Singapore that would include an underwater tunnel.

In September 2010, the government announced a high-speed rail link as one of the projects under its Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), which is supposed to be driven by the private sector.

The proposal was similar to one proposed in 2006 by YTL Corporation, which would cost RM8 billion. The 2006 proposal did not turn into anything concrete, but in 2009, YTL asked the government to reconsider it.

According to a recent report in The Star, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) issued a tender for the feasibility study last December.

This revelation came as a shock, said Dzulkefly. He asked the government to explain why the project was shrouded in mystery, saying most people knew about it only as reported in bits and pieces in the media.

He estimated that the project would cost as much as RM30 billion, a figure that he said the government would find difficult to support with the national debt in the background.

“We want it to be transparent and we want public consultation to be done early,” he said.


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