I am amazed at the way some politicians talk when campaigning for the Melaka elections. All sorts of talk about projects is being thrown at the voters, as if the politicians are in full control and can dictate whether those projects can go ahead or are stopped.
Some appear to behave as if they already have the funds to get the projects started, when we know very well no such allocations were made in the 2022 federal budget, let alone in the 12th Malaysia Plan.
Lying to voters seems to have become part of the campaign process. I hope that voters are taking note.
Most of the campaigners are Muslim. Does it never occur to them that lying is a big sin in their so-called Islamic way of life? I won’t elaborate further but those with the moon and green symbols are equally guilty of selling a pack of lies.
What does Melaka need?
Melaka’s problem is connectivity, being linked mainly by road with limited access by air and sea. Roads alone are not sufficient. They are narrow, built for local trips and have limited capacity. They cannot be widened easily, made worse in some places by the presence of roadside shops, factories, warehouses or service facilities. Road widening will involve land acquisition, which can be expensive.
Also, I believe the state will not want to have more roads than a usable land-bank to support the local population and future growth.
Road transport such as buses are ineffective when ferrying passengers to parts of Melaka town, which is not easy to navigate with so many road junctions, traffic lights and regulated road systems like one-way streets which cause more delays or longer travel time.
Rail as the solution
The point is, Melaka like Penang island, lacks the rail connections for an alternative means of transport or a quick getaway transit system.
Road congestion has become common. Almost everyone must drive a car or take a bus, although this is a small number, to go in and out of Melaka, through roads that are already heavily congested.
Freight and delivery trucks also use the roads, adding to the congestion.
The solution lies in rail connections.
ERL to KLIA
The best opportunity for Melaka city and possibly Masjid Tanah and Linggi is a connection by ERL to Kuala Lumpur International Airport via Port Dickson, a short distance of less than 50km in a straight line.
Journeys from KLIA to Melaka would only take 30 to 35 minutes which road services cannot match.
A rail connection will put Melaka on a much higher accessibility index among Malaysian cities, and place it closer to Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley, with a possible journey time of slightly under an hour – a big plus point compared to road trips.
Connection to KTM network
Another rail connection worth building is from Melaka city to Tampin, the border town between Melaka and Negeri Sembilan. The distance is equally short.
A connection to the Keretapi Tanah Melayu network will provide access to a large market base for passengers and cargo to the north of the peninsula as well as to the south, and via the East Coast line all the way to Tumpat, Kelantan.
What a market opening it would be!
The double-tracking of the Gemas-Johor Bahru line is currently under way. A spur line from Tampin to Melaka city will bring a high number of passengers directly to the city centre
Melaka’s economy needs this connectivity urgently. This should be the main focus.
Forget the High Speed Railway project, forget Singapore traffic and forget the land reclamation that is changing the Melaka coastline.
We don’t need a spillover of economic activities from Singapore to devise a workable solution for Melaka. We have lived under the shadow of Singapore long enough.
The connection to KL is the major missing link that hinders Melaka’s development.
Once this is built, commercial and property development, malls, factories and the movement of labourers to Melaka will follow suit.
I wish politicians campaigning in Melaka would think along this line so that the people of Melaka can tell the difference. Campaigning for leadership should not be based simply on empty talk.
The voters should be able to separate the ones who think from the ones who speak rhetoric and the religionists.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.