SEPANG: Ketereh parliamentary candidate Radzi Jidin today questioned the mega projects being planned for or implemented in Kelantan, saying they have yet to bring any benefit to the locals.
“In all the ceramah sessions I’ve had in the build-up to this election, the audience has always asked one question: if any of them or anyone they know is working on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project,” said Radzi.
“Among the thousands at those many ceramahs, I’ve yet to see one local with anybody they know working on the ECRL. That alone shows that the locals are already being sidelined.”
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate is taking on Umno veteran and stalwart Annuar Musa for the Ketereh parliamentary seat, with PAS veteran Wan Ismail Wan Jusoh making it a three-cornered battle.
After spending 20 years in Australia as a student and then as an accounting and auditing lecturer, Radzi resigned from the University of Tasmania last month to devote himself to his hometown.
The Ketereh PPBM division chief said he saw the need to pitch in to defend the interests of the people against issues from an economic perspective.
“As it stands, even economic growth which others harp on seems artificial with the people not feeling the benefit,” he said.
“Mega projects are nice. But look at the ECRL: from the early stages until now, it is clear that the locals are not benefitting. They are not getting jobs, contractors too are not getting business, so how does this benefit the local economy?
“The ECRL costs RM55 billion with an interest rate of 3.5% when we start paying in seven years. It is not paid to us, but China.
“When the government was questioned over why even building materials and contractors were brought in from China, the answer was disappointing – that it was because the manuals to operate the machines were in Chinese and locals couldn’t read it.
“Then came the goods and services tax (GST) issue and news that the company was not even being charged GST. It is a handsome business for the Chinese companies, but not for us.”
Radzi said when the ECRL was ready, it might not affect business at the Pengkalan Chepa airport but there will be no demand for travelling by train as it takes longer and might be costlier.
He said not only did such issues need to be highlighted, solutions prioritising the locals needed to be sought in Parliament, which, he said, Barisan Nasional (BN) or BN-friendly candidates would not do.
Ketereh is a predominantly Malay constituency, with a Chinese voting population of about 2,000. Ketereh has a unique history of switching between BN and opposition parties in every election, making it hard for an incumbent to retain. Annuar is the current incumbent.
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Arnaz M Khairul contributed to this article.