KUALA LUMPUR: The announcement by the Pakatan Harapan government to proceed with the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) project, after it was put on hold several times, seems like a ploy to woo voters in the upcoming Tanjung Piai by-elections, says MCA.
While it welcomed the announcement, its International communication and diplomacy bureau chairperson cum RTS monitoring group representative Dr Tee Ching Seng chided Transport Minister Anthony Loke for failing to sign the amended bilateral agreement with the Singapore government which many were expecting at the end of last month.
"Pakatan claims to support the RTS, but is unable to give the people a specific timeframe," he said in a statement on Friday (Nov 1).
On Thursday (Oct 31), the Government agreed to proceed with the RTS between Bukit Chagar and Woodlands in Singapore, but said there were issues that needed to be ironed out.
These include inking several new agreements, which are expected to be signed by both countries next year. Construction works for the RTS is also expected to start in 2020.
But Malaysia will not be required to pay any further compensation despite the deadline for the second extension ending Thursday.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the new proposed RTS between Malaysia and Singapore would save taxpayers at least RM1.77bil and most of the savings came from land cost involving the proposed station in Bukit Chagar.
The land was previously owned by the Johor Ruler, he added.
The new estimated cost for the project is RM3.16bil compared with the original amount of RM4.93bil under the previous government.
Loke said the RTS project could not be started immediately and expected construction work to begin only after the three agreements were signed early next year.
He said the agreements expected to be signed between both countries were the amended bilateral agreement, joint venture agreement and sole concession agreement.
Tee also said that the relinquishment of the land was already made known when on May 4, the Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar decreed that if the plot of land at Bukit Chagar was involved in the RTS project, His Majesty agreed to hand over the land to the Federal Government without any cost.
"The Government should instead be finding the most cost-effective way in executing the project in its current framework, not recycling old news as new savings," he said.
Tee said that every day, over 200,000 Malaysians cross the Johor-Singapore Causeway for work or studies, painstakingly enduring the perpetual congestion.
"They wish that the government of the day would put constructive effort into solving the problem.
"If the Pakatan government continues to beat around the bush, and even taking advantage via the upcoming by-election, no words can describe the people's disappointment and fury," he said.