PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s poor public transport system and haphazard urban planning are due to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “obsession with cars” during his first stint as prime minister, claims Khairy Jamaluddin.
The former Umno Youth chief today said Mahathir’s dream for every family to own a car made him lose sight of the importance of an integrated public transport system on a large scale.
“During the 1980s and ’90s, there weren’t many public transport projects which Mahathir (built)… only the LRT (Light Rapid Transit) and monorail systems,” said Khairy in an episode of the Keluar Sekejap podcast.
“Mahathir was only obsessed with cars (and) Proton. He even said that the country needed a large population to sustain heavy industries such as the car (manufacturing) industry. His aspiration was for each family to own a car, and (he) didn’t look at an integrated public transport system.
“I’m not saying there wasn’t one. There was, but it was not done on a large scale. If it was done at the time, perhaps we wouldn’t be faced with the current haphazard planning that we see now.”
Khairy said that while Mahathir’s successors like Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak oversaw the development of integrated public transport systems like the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), poor urban planning during Mahathir’s tenure hindered their efforts.
Khairy, who had held various portfolios in the Cabinet, added that the public transport systems were not built with housing projects in mind, resulting in lower ridership numbers.