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Thursday May 8, 2008 MYT 7:48:53 PM

Infrastructure to be top priority, says DPM

PUTRAJAYA: Although the country's infrastructure is already top class, infrastructure development will continue to be a priority in the government's agenda of nation building, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"It is the Government's responsibility to prepare the necessary infrastructure to be a catalyst for greater development, without which we cannot attract foreign investors and will see bottlenecks in our economic progress," he said.

He also said that the Government could not plan infrastructure with expectations of getting high returns, as fees could not be charged for all projects.

From 1991 when Vision 2020 was first mooted until the end of last year, the Government had spent nearly RM100bil for infrastructure development, he said, adding that during the same period a total of 104,112km of roads and bridges had been successfully constructed nationwide.

Najib said Malaysia made an impact on the world stage with the North-South Expressway, Penang Bridge, Petronas Twin Towers, Westport, Putrajaya, SMART Tunnel and the KL International Airport projects.

Speaking to reporters Thursday after opening Kuala Lumpur Infrastructure University College's (KLIUC) international conference on infrastructure development here, he said infrastructure like roads, bridges and other basic amenities would continue to be built in rural areas in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak to boost development.

Nevertheless, he said, Malaysia could not be lulled into a sense of complacency as other developing nations within or outside the region had caught on with the country's formula for success.

"Dubai's road network, with a total length of 10,000km-lanes is comparable to the most efficient road networks in the world," he said, adding that in the pipeline were an eight-lane tunnel under the airport and a new 12-lane bridge across Dubai Creek.

Najib, however, said sustainable development would always be the cornerstone of Malaysia's development philosophy where the impact on the environment would have to be taken into consideration.

With global warming wreaking havoc on the global weather pattern, he said it should be given serious consideration when planning any infrastructure project.

He said the Government could not do so alone and needed all stakeholders to be involved.

"One consideration worthy of examination is the intelligent building concept which is a building that combines innovations and technological features with skilful management to maximise returns on investment," he said.

Among projects utilising the concept are the Beijing Airport, Madrid Barajas International Airport in Spain, London's Heathrow Airport and the 75km Arabian Canal.

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