2:15 pm - Monday October 23, 2017

Dr M Is No ‘Father of Malaysian Public Transport’, says Suaram Man

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MO, PETALING JAYA, 9/8/2017 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad failed to implement an efficient and integrated public transport system due to his obsession with privatisation and the national car project, says Dr Kua Kia Soong.

The adviser to human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said the former prime minister was not the “father of Malaysian public transport”, which is what his former critics turned allies now call him.

“Concerned Malaysian historians need to start telling it like it is,” he wrote in a piece titled Revisiting Mahathir’s flawed transport record, published on the Aliran portal on Wednesday.

“Allow me to remind the country of the litany of woes we have suffered under Dr Mahathir, especially the decades of traffic jams while fighting for a good public transport system in our country,” he added.

Dr Kua alleged that Dr Mahathir’s earliest “mega project”, the national car Proton, was promoted at the expense of public transport.

“The proportionately huge public development allocation for roads and highways paralleled the expenditure on the national car project,” he said.

He said this resulted in the number of registered vehicles in Kuala Lumpur more than doubling in seven years from 327,602 in 1985 to 662,717 in 1992.

He added that by 1998, there were 8.9 million motor vehicles on the roads, of which 4.5 million were motorcycles, 3.5 million were cars and the remainder were utility vehicles, trucks and buses.

Dr Kua, who was Petaling Jaya Utara MP from 1990 to 1995, also noted that Dr Mahathir launched his privatisation policy during the mid-1980s, when Malaysia was already in a recession.

Using the New Economic Policy, Dr Mahathir created more bumiputra trustee enterprises and agencies for his privatisation push.

“Many of the inside stories of the numerous contracts have been hidden from the public through the years, involving corruption and the lack of accountability, resulting in delays and inflated costs of these transport projects,” Dr Kua said.

Dr Kua questioned how the LRT (Light Rail Transit) project that was awarded to Sistem Transit Aliran Ringan (STAR) became “financeable” by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) when the project had failed to get financing for seven years.

He also said the Kuala Lumpur Monorail service also had to be bailed out by government-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd after it faced bankruptcy in 2004.

“The KL Monorail was not able to meet even half its ridership target of 85,000 passengers a day by 2003 because it was not conveniently linked to the other two mass transit systems, Putra and STAR,” he said.

Dr Kua also brought up the fact that the RM400mil Putrajaya monorail project by Mtrans Holdings Sdn Bhd was shelved in 2004.

Then there was the vision for an efficient public transport system that was first launched during a mid-term review of the Sixth Malaysia Plan in December 1993.

That aimed to merge bus companies in Kuala Lumpur by 1994.

Under the Seventh Malaysia Plan, the Government announced that bus services in the city would be operated by two consortiums, Intrakota Komposit Sdn Bhd and Park May Bhd.

Dr Kua however said that the “deterioration” in drivers’ attitudes and general bus services saw Intrakota accumulating losses of RM339mil.

“When the 21st century dawned, 13 bus companies in all were operating in the capital, and the bus service was as chaotic as ever,” he said.

“It is clear that Dr Mahathir failed to implement the necessary reforms for an integrated and efficient public transport system in the country,” he added. – The Star

 

Filed in: Nasional, Politik

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