Monday, December 19, 2016

Banal attack on ECRL

The Edge made a false claim that ECRL will be the most costliest rail in the world.

Subsequently, it was made an issue during the parliament session. It was sensational thus it became the subject of conversations at office water cooler, coffeeshops and rumour mongering platforms of Whass App and Telegram.

A commentary in The Mole here dispel such claim. An extract below:
... The Edge claimed the ECRL cost is RM91.67m per km, which is equivalent to USD20.55m or £16.45m per km.

The estimated construction cost for a California HSR line is USD55m per km. And, HS2 planned for Britain is estimated at £78.5m per km.

Even though it is not an apple to apple comparison, surely ECRL cannot be “the world’s costliest railway”!
He agreed construction cost is not only relevant but critical in any successful implementation of expensive rail projects.

Malaysiakini is fair to remind public transportation do not make money. All of Mahathr's privatised public transport initiatives failed and need bailout by government. [Read this article by The Telegraph here on proper discussion on cost]

However, the issues raised against ECRL tend to be political sensationalism and trivial. It is not looking at the perspective that matters most i.e. long term economic development.

To argue it is not the right time and priority for other matter, it is banal and shallow. Calling it white elephant in the making is prejudice and negative. 

Dato Abdul Rahman Dahlan earlier claimed the opposition critics makes no sense.

Datuk Toh Chin Yaw of MCA Terengganu felt opposition interest is "to derail and sabotage the project."

Game changer

Terengganu see the ECRL beyond an alternative mode of transportation but a game changer for the state. The Mole extract:
The game-changing ECRL should be seen beyond better logistics for goods and people to/from Klang Valley. Economic activities and growth could be generated along the route and nearby area in the neglected East Coast states.

To spend additional billions of ringgit to extend the line to link Port Klang and connect to the 30-percent China-owned Kuantan Port, there must be a strategic reason. The proposed plan is for a ratio of 70:30 cargos to passenger.
Since it is part of One Belt One Road of China's infrastructure grand masterplan for Asia, it could be business from China that would be paying for the HSR!

Quoting from The Mole article:
All these concerns do not downplay the need for efficient transport as a necessary component for development.

Those critics quoting from HSS Engineers Berhad feasibility study should have pointed out shortcomings in the economic viability of the project.

Efficient transport systems reduce cost and time, improve reliability, and minimise waste from loss and damage. It links raw materials, parts, energy, and labor, and broader markets into a web of producers and consumers. And, it enables efficient division of production, leveraging of geographical comparative advantage, and opportunity for expansion.

More location translates to wider network and market size-access to achieve economies of scale. All these translate to growth.
For TK Chua in FMT here to claim Dato Rahman Dahlan's first statement was not sufficiently punchy, it was hardly a deadly blow.

He was drawn to reveal his cards and actually did Rahman a favour. TK Chua has yet to reply to Rahman's answer on the loan from China here.

There is no urgency in the project. He did not read the part in here about the planning was done since 2007.

It will be given due process. The necessary feasibility studies, valuations and due diligence should be given. Malaysia have experiences in project management of rail projects which among others are STAR, KTM, KTM Commuter, PUTRA and Monorail. Not to mentioned is KTM rail project in Saudi Arabia and Scomi's many overseas contracts.

That answers the premature preemptive concerns by Salleh Muhammad. also in FMT here.

Technology transfer

On the overused and abused term of technology transfer, The Mole comment highlighted:
There is opportunity from the massive development of rail transport to acquire technology and expertise, gain management skill and develop supporting services. Local universities could develop courses, establish faculty and conduct research on rail engineering.

This is something MIGHT need to look. A new leadership with commercial experience and fresh new idea is needed to develop this sub-sector into a new industry.
This is a genuine concern. Too often offset programs are not taken up after the deals are completed. We need to be serious and diligent on this.

It cannot be merely projects for civil work and construction of stations to play up the stocks of public listed companies. They should be learning up on signalling, communication and rolling stocks.

Finally there will soon to be no more issue with the blacklisted contractor CCCC. The UN sanction expire in January, few more days. Anyway, this is not UN funded. 

A look at their website here reveals that be it CCCC or its subsidiaries, Penang have been benefiting and securing investment from then. No complains of jual negara or colonisation or national debt or cost there.

Disputing opposition

In last week's analysis on ECRL, The Edge still insist to spread a lie that the cost is actually RM46 million but someone flip RM9 billion out. Public may have the perception that China still do business like any 3rd world country thus willing to collude.

The inspiration came from none other than the Sarawak Report. Read their July posting here [if you could get access].

Below was replied:

Not sure whether it has something to do with Gemas-JB double tracking here. More here.

Despite several explanations on comparative cost with other HSRs and earlier estimates to the announced estimates [read LSS here], the opposition is still adamant and the world costliest rail will surely be a slogan for latter day campaign.

Tony Pua referred to a study commissioned to HSSI but intentionally ignored the currency difference and finalised plan, including retreating the starting terminal from Gombak to Port Klang. That added 88 km to the original 600 km earlier plan and passing through prime areas.

Rafizi boo boo on the RM21 billion cost for two phases instead of one phase, so ECRL at RM25 billion?

Tony Pua also falsely alleged ECRL cost was increased by 130% to create prejudice against China companies by accusing them of transferring illegal money and implicated them with 1MDB. By the way, was what happened in Penang?

Rahman pointed out that in quoting the costs for double-tracking railway projects on the West Coast of RM44m per km for Ipoh-Padang Besar and RM39.8m per km for Gemas-Johor Bahru, opposition ignored the projected cost of RM257.14m per km for Penang’s proposed 7.5km passenger-only LRT project from Komtar to Penang airport.

When Tony Pua replied by asking to stop changing lines, that his style of covering up he ran out of arguments to reply back.

This quote from business website, intheblack.coma's September 2015 posting here is a tip-off to not use that argument again:
While the infrastructure unit price of HSR in Europe is US$25-39 million per kilometre and the current estimated cost for California is US$56 million per kilometre, China’s figure comes in at US$17-21 million.

Heavens! Definitely not Dato Abdul Kadir Jasin's arguments to insist show bank-in slip in typical retail transaction and jual negara for a multi-billion G-to-G deal.

Deal with Arabs, selling country away to Arab. Play golf with Obama, neo-colonisation. Britain must have allowed Malaysian reverse colonisation to allow Battersea development.

Please not recycle the same Mahathir's argument against Singapore to bring Pak Lah down. He was manipulating on public ignorance and gullibility.

Wong Chun Wai claimed it marks of racism. He suggested critics face the reality that Malaysia cannot rely on western capital anymore.
And, there will always be ridiculous claim to come from Rafizi like the claim the operating company is owned personally by two people. This is not the era Francis Yeoh, Ananda Krishnan and Vincent Tan roams.

These oppositions needs enlightenment of China's OBOR and Silk Road Initiative (SRI). They need to appreciate the historical, strategic, trade and good governance spirit behind the initiatives. 

It closes the east-west peninsular gap and rectify the years of neglect under Mahathir towards Kelantan and the Malay hinterland in the East Coast. Is the opposition boycotting their fixed deposit?

If they still insist to protest ECRL, how about doing their protest at Tianamen Square!


dt rahman pekan said...

being involved in d rail industry 4 20 yrs both while in d govt n outside, I dare say that 4 now d ECRL is a bloody waste of public money which ever way u try 2 justify d project.

one cardinal question that need 2 b asked is why d need 2 award this project 2 d Chinese group that is well known 4 their unhealthy business practices which r unfortunately being sanctioned by d Chinese govt.

this is d irony that we hv 2 endure ie internal corruption is dealt wth xtreme punishment but corruption outside is quietly sanctioned just 4 d sake of Chinese survival. as such we r victims of Chinese govt manipulation.

even if d govt decides 2 go ahead wth d project, what is wrong wth local xpertise?
rawang/Ipoh n Ipoh/pg besar were done by local companies. by now we shld b d one 2 xport our xpertise not import from dubious companies from overseas.

I dare say that this project is 'day light robbery' in a different form.

give my consultant friends a chance 2 shoulder this responsibility n I can almost assure u that we can do it at less than half d price.

"the petty thief is imprisoned but the big thief becomes a feudal lord" - zhuangzi, the complete works of chuang Tzu.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rahman jpc,

It is not about the expertise alone, but financial aspect that has been offered by the Chinese. Other than Chinese and japan, none of any consortium can offer project expertise plus cheap financing (even lower than local financing).

If your consultant friends can came out with the project plan plus cheap financing, not only Malaysia will hire them, but rest of the world.

dt rahman pekan said...

anon 4:08.

d xcuse given is almost laughable.

fyi, 4 d gemas/jb tranche, a consortium of banks were ever willing 2 undertake d financing. we even had n audience wth baginda sultan johor 2 put forward our was of course futile bcos najib had promised certain Chinese companies.

dato Ibrahim ali confirmed it 2 me personally n cotd 2 advice us not 2 waste our time.

I m still wth d considered opinion that we Malaysians can do it at half d cost announced by najib. period.

d banks r flush wth money. it is d govt. that is scrapping d barrel.

Anonymous said...

Rahman jpc

Ibrahim ali confirm it to you?

Since when he is an expert in rail negotiation and controls the access to EPU? He can't even get an appoint to see sultan kelantan i.e. Agong. Got his kelantan datokship taken back. With perkasa flip flopping and more an aspiring political party than an ngo, it could make him the most accessible person. Right?

Ever thought he might have heard it from someone who heard it from someone else and in turn, over heard it over teh tarik from some lower level officer in EPU.

The chinese came in a package. Not only are they in an advantage on cost and expertise, there are other geo- political and international consideration. Given to rahman jpc, the bulk of work still involve foreigner and naturally, only add on to final cost. Come with it, who is behind you lobbying for it? Ibrahim Ali?

China have the largest network of HSR In the world! The expertise in HSR Is down to few companies in the world. Given to malaysian, it will only be project management with jobs contract out to foreigners too. Will that add to lower cost?

If china builds it at around USD20 million, could Msia do it cheaper with land cost presumably higher than China?

We have gone this path of trying to turn a major project into a Malaysia Boleh feat which ended up into disaster. The history of mahathir administration is littered with such pipedreams and government bailouts!

Then, do our local bank have expertise in making technical assessment of HSR projects? It will end up with them imposing cumbersome and ridiculous request like insisting government to guarantee traffic volume. That is why our toll rate ended going up endlessly and regularly. It is happening despite traffic congestion. It atarted and is THE reason for spiraling cost of living till today. All due to the kicker the banks wanted!!!!

Rahman grouses is quite typical of those lost out in contract bidding. It is the yearning for the big fish but it never bite to claim it got away.

Zul said...

Anom...Rahman got a point. The local company are capable. The current administration are fond of china due to various personal greed.

dt rahman pekan said...

pls do not jump 2 conclusion.

hsr n gemas/jb n ECRL r diferent entities altogether.

I met Ibrahim ali bcos our wives r very close. he was d only outsider when najib visited china early in his premiership. it was during that visit that najib confirmed his intention 2 award d project 2 d Chinese.

gemas/jb is d last 'trench' of d last north/south double tracking is also supposed 2 b electrified, signaling n wth full comms.

ECRL is single tract wth provision 4 future double tracking n non electrified.

thus pls get yr facts right first.

of course all in d industry r dumb founded when d estimsted cost was announced by najib in his budget speech. again I wld like 2 reiterate that we as a consortium can undertake it at half d cost.

it is not a question of sour grapes but a sincere declaration of a responsible player.

Anonymous said...

Rahman JPC

Saw your comment on AKJ's. You are a Chap Bunga.

Your comments are questiinable. You could be another Ratu Naga or Khairuddin or Anina.

dt rahman pekan said...

yes, anon 11:52, I just applied 2 b a life member of PPBM.

after a long soul searching,it was quite n easy decision eventually.

if d present leadership in UMNO feel that their positions in govt is ordained by a higher power, they r gravely mistaken.

I m a nobody but d owner of my own destiny that tries 2 contribute 2wards making Malaysia into a better nation 4 our future generations.

I hv chosen PPBM as a vehicle. come joint d struggle.

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