BM 中文 English

Speech by SA for Padungan, Wong King Wei at the Sarawak State Legislative Council, Kuching

OPEN TENDER IN AWARDING STATE CONTRACTS

I urge the Sarawak Government to practice good and transparent governance, by open tendering of all the major state projects. The recent two mega projects, ie the proposed Second Trunk Road and Coastal road, worth RM6 Billion and 5 Billion respectively, are going to be given out by way of direct negotiation to a single company for each project.

Sarawak has plenty of consultant and road contractor. There is no reason why such big projects are not divided into few portion for many more of Sarawakians’ Company to share the work and profit.

This is how typical Sarawak Government has abuse and misuse the autonomous rights, for your own personal and political gain.

The struggle for more autonomous rights are meant for the benefit of Sarawkians as a whole, not for a selected group of Sarawakians. Sarawak Government should not at one hand pretend to be fighter for autonomy and on the other hand abuse the autonomy for leader’s and cronies’ personal gain.

Further on the separate note, I urge the concession of state road maintenance to be done in open tender and to segregate the whole concessions into 8-10 portions and shorten the period for 5 years. There should be no special treatment given to CMS Road Sdn Bhd. In Speaker’s ruling on behalf of the Government, on the motion moved by YB Pahlawan, the Speaker stated yesterday in this August House, as reflected in page 50 of Hasard that CMS Road Sdn Bhd has the capacity, resources, competencies and strength in many aspects.
I have reply in the followings:-

It does not need extraordinary kind of knowledge or expertise for road construction and maintenance. There are ample qualified and capable consultant and road builder in Sarawak. The whole stretch of state road maintenance can be divided into many packages, both big and small, let the bigger contractor handle the bigger packages and the smaller contractor the smaller one.

Opportunity should be given to other contractors in Sarawak, so that the economic pie can be shared amongst many others. This help to groom the economy of the State.

The economy of the state does not grow when the minority selected group are given special favour, but many small medium entrepreneurs are given opportunity to participate. Bear in mind that it is a fact that small medium enterprise is the backbone to the economy.

Favourism kills the economy of the State. GPS government has a lot more to do to prove yourself that you are more than just changing name. By merely changing name from Barisan Nasional to Gabungan Parti-Parti Sarawak does not gives you more support of the people if the policies are remaining the same with UMNO.

GPS is just an old wine with new bottle.

PH Federal Government had implemented that all major projects should be given out by way of open tendering. Transparency and accountability is our policy to ensure good governance. Only good policies will brings the nation to a correct direction, Not GPS.

RABIES

On rabies issue, since the first outbreak of rabies in Serian on 1st of July 2017, we are now marking one year anniversary. Over the past one year, there are 11 Rabies Cases detected in Sarawak and recorded 10 casualties.

It is now not just involving dogs, but cats as well. Over past one year, the government had spent considerable sum of money in vaccinating animals, providing treatment for human patients, educating the public and also it involves a lot of man power to battle the decease. However today the problem remained unsolved.

I want to take this opportunity to record my heartfelt appreciation to those medical officers who are rendering their best service to fight against the decease. It is now no longer about how much more hardwork we have to put in to fight against this, but it is about policy and political will of the politicians, ie the honourable members of this August House.

No one will disagree with me spreading of rabies decease in southern region, involving Kuching, Serian, Sri Aman has lost control. Technically no places are safe from rabies in Southern part of Sarawak.

We need to come out with certain policies to eradicate rabies from our beloved Sarawak before it spread to other places such as central region or northern region.

I propose the following policies:-

  1. to legislate by-laws to make registration pet dog and cat compulsory by planting biochip into the body part of the animal. This is not only monitor the vaccination status of a particular pet but also to be able to identify the owner of the pet, for tracking and tracing purpose. Stringent the legislation for those whom owner failed to register their pets, to be liable for deterrent sentence.
  2. Empower and providing more man power to the enforcement team to unregistered capture pets roaming dogs and stray dogs.
  3. providing and employ more veterinary officers to increase the pace to actively go around to vaccinate all the dogs and cats.

The Government should set a target to eradicate rabies cases within 3-6 months. No further delay is endurable.

HOTLINE SERVICE OF LOCAL COUNCIL AND KWB

I demand the quality of the service of Local Council and Kuching Water Board to be improved, in terms of providing emergency service.

The complaint hotline of local council, such as MBKS and also Kuching Water Board is not working after office hour.

This is not acceptable as hotline are meant for 24 hours. The Local Council and Water Board shall standby staff to handle emergency needs.

I urge the Government to take serious note on this.

LRT

I rejoice for the announcement made by YAB Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Abang Zohari, on the LRT Plan, which will be completed in 2024. But when dissecting the content of his announcement, I opine that it would be a LRT plan for ridicule.

As I have said, the PH supports any development which is benefitting the people, so does for the case of LRT, but the gradual nature in developing public transport and its practicality as well as effectiveness, cannot be compromised.

First of all, I would like to introduce some of the characteristics of LRT to the Chief Minister and hoping, with that, the Chief Minister can make the plans better:

  1. LRT is a public transport involving heavy capital (in fact, any public transport by rail in nature involves a huge amount of money).Therefore, once built, it has a long-term impact on the economic burden of Sarawak. Thus, we have to ensure that the infusion of such huge sums of money is worthwhile and brings the highest traffic effect.
  2. LRT is permanent. Once it is built, it can’t be arbitrarily modified and will permanently form part of the City. Unlike other public transport facilities such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), bicycles lanes, pedestrains’ walkways, trams, etc., it can be adapted to certain areas following the development of the city from time to time. Therefore, LRT cannot be rushed into the trade, nor can it rushed to be planned in order for the CM not to be teased.
  3. LRT is not meant for high speed. Its strength is mainly on the frequency. That is why the LRT is only suitable for traffic in crowded and congested urban areas. The highest speed of LRT, when it is in travelling between the stops, is normally at the range of 70-80 km/h. In order for the train to frequently stop at stations, the average speed is only between 40-60 km/h. Therefore, it is definitely not a means of transportation to the far. Instead of LRT, High Speed Railway is appropriate mode to travel to Serian, Damai, Lundu and any other townships in Sarawak, as there is no densely populated areas in between which require frequent stoppage. That was why when the Chief Minister announced, few days ago, that it would take 1 hour to get to Serian with LRT, many people made fun of the LRT plan. It is because it tooks only 45 minutes to get to the Serian by road. I have reason to believe that by then a lot of people will still travel by road to Serian due to the costs to travel by LRT to such a far distance will be very high.
  4. LRT is not meant for cargo but for passengers only, it explains why LRT is not a means of transport to a distant way. The Chief Minister’s plan in building LRT into a remote place for transporting passenger only, will be a huge waste and is not practical.
  5. LRT is not a standalone public transport mode. It is not primarily used to carry passengers from home to destination, but to help people without the need to drive to congested places or places where parking spaces are scarce. Therefore, LRT is definitely not a transportation mode for solving traffic problems independently. If the Chief Minister is aware of history of public transport of the many developed countries, public transport’s development is gradual. There must be pre-existing conditions before LRT can play its role effectively. There are a number of public transport developments which have yet in existence in the city of Kuching, especially bus networks. LRT always play the role as backbone and the bus network is like a branch to move the passengers from the four sides of the corners to LRT. Apart from buses as “branch”, taxis, uber/grab, bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways are equally important to complement LRT. Before the construction of LRT, all these should be formed. I will explain why all these have to pre-exist before LRT in the point No. 6 below.
  6. The Demand Analysis on the demand corridor of LRT should not be based on the population, but on the ‘public transport commuting attitude’ of Kuchingnites. Therefore, the Chief Minister’s LRT plan which is based on population as identifying the demand corridor is totally wrong. In the current situation, 97% of Kuchingnites use motorised vehicles in mobilising themselves, while only 1% is transporting by public bus. Any Transportation Expert will say it is impossible to know how the public transport commuting attitude is. Only through the execution of a bus network in the first place, can we know which areas will give priority to the construction of LRT. The bus network, which I propose, is BRT, which is tantamount to “LRT on the road”. BRT is much cheaper, in both construction and operation, than LRT and highly adjustable in meeting the demand. Only by observing the commuting attitude of buses, we can build a more effective and complete LRT network.

The construction of the LRT will be the biggest mega-project in Sarawak for recent years, involving nearly RM 11 Billion.

According to reports, the cost of LRT will be funded by the Sarawak Bank of Development. The capital of the Bank is made up by State Governments, especially from State reserve fund. There is nothing wrong to use the reserve fund to fund mega projects in the State. However, when Sarawak reserve funds were injected into the Bank as capital, it would be the situation where Sarawak has to, theoretically, lend from the Bank to construct LRT.

I anticipate the State will create huge indebtedness to construct LRT and other mega projects which are expected to come.

11 billion is only the construction costs, how about monthly operation costs? These were not contemplated by the Chief Minister in his LRT plan. For a total of 155.2 kilometres of LRT, the construction costs and operating costs are naturally not cheap. The interest imposed by the Bank will also be part of the operating cost. These debt-type operating costs will be passed on to light rail passengers, and the LRT fares will not be expected to be cheap.

Further, the Chief Minister announced that LRT would provide nearly 21,000 jobs, which is a seemingly exhilarating, but also a huge operating cost, a worrying fact.

However if the LRT plan is concentrated in the urban centre, there will be no need for 155.2 kilometres of LRT, and the construction and operating costs will naturally be much reduced.

That is part of the reasons why I opine that the 155.2-kilometer-long light rail railway is not necessary for the Kuching at this stage, and it is wasteful.

In the capital, Kuala Lumpur (including the Klang Valley), the first phase of the LRT, which was built in the 90 ‘s i.e “Star Line”, is only 27.4 km in length and was divided into two phases. The Star Line passed through densely populated residential and commercial areas without going to the outskirts of the urban areas. The population of the Klang Valley was about 3 million, while the Kuching is just 700-800 Thousands population as for now. Such a large LRT project will be burdensome to the State fiscal, and the passengers will be required to pay expensive transport fares due to the shortage of passengers (in terms of kilometres) and high operating costs. It will turn the LRT into a “white elephant” project.

Apart from Klang valley, comparison is worth to be made to other cities in South east Asia:-

  1. first phase of Singapore MRT was build in 80s. it was about 45 KM only. After 30 years of rail transit development, MRT is about 199.6 KM at length only.
  2. Bangkok , launched her first phase of LRT (blue line) in year 2004, 21 KM only
  3. Jakarta, a city with population of 10 Million, going to complete her first phase of LRT, 15.7 KM only. Second phase is expected to be completed and in operation in year 2025, 87 KM. both added are merely about 102.7 KM.
  4. Manila, first phase of LRT completed in 80s, 7.7 KM at length. Until Now. All three line of LRT are only totalling 50 KM.

Out of the 155.2-kilometer-length of the proposed LRT Plan, 93% (or 144.4 km) is bypassing Kuching City, only 7% (or 10.8 km) of the route is passing the congested and densely populated urban area.

My question is, does the YAB Chief Minister really know what LRT is about? The strength of the LRT is to provide alternative means of transport for the public, instead of motorcar, to mobilise in urban areas where traffic congestion and parking space are scarce, so that they do not have to be stuck in the traffic jam.

LRT is mainly used to avoid the traffic congestion, not to connect the towns. The LRT plan that Chief Minister announced consists of three lines, the first of which was to connect the Samarahan and Santubong/Damai Beach area. The second line connects Serian and Bako area. These two lines are in totality 144.4 kilometres at length and are by-passing Kuching city, not passing through Kuching City.

I have only heard of “outer ring Road” being constructed to solve traffic congestion in the urban area and have not heard of “outer ring LRT” being used.

The Chief Minister’s LRT plan is incomprehensible. If the Chief Minister replaces “outer ring LRT” with Outer ring road, it will save us a huge costs of at least 6 Billion to 7 Billion. Instead of constructing “outer ring LRT”, Samarahan LRT Line should be connected direcly to the LRT “City Dispersal Line” through Muara Tuang, 7th Mile, 6th Mile, 3rd Mile, where the areas are densely populated and highly traffic congested. This will ease the traffic congestion in the 7th, 6th, 3rd Mile as well.

I really can’t comprehend why Samarahan LRT Line has to go all the way to Santubong and Damai Beach where no traffic congestion problem is in existence.

WE DESERVE NOT ONLY LRT, BUT A DECENT ONE

In order to determine LRT Corridor (or what is normally called “LRT Line”), “mobility behavior” is the main factor. To identify the mobility behavior of the people, it is not by traffic flow of the vehicle, but mainly from the number of people taking bus service.

One of the most important part in planning LRT is to determine the LRT corridor because LRT once built, it involves exorbitant costs and its corridor is not able to be amended. LRT can be extended but cannot be amended. It will co-exist with the city for a long time, and the city will be limited its development due to LRT’s existence.

Therefore, it is worrying when Sarawak CM plans the whole corridor of 155.2KM one go. It should not be done simply.

According to research, 97% of Kuchingnites are using by motorized vehicles in daily life, and only 1% is using public buses. Since past decade, public bus service in Kuching is much deteriorated. From the possible data of 1% of public bus passengers, it is impossible for CM to be able to determine the LRT Corridor. That is why, public bus service must be improved before LRT can take place.

At the beginning of the Chief Minister’s press statement on LRT, he first introduced the data on the population of Kuching, Samarahan and the Serian. It is reasonable to infer that he identified the LRT Corridor by the population.

The LRT corridor is not identified by the population, nor is it measured by the flow of traffic, as neither of these figures can indicate the demand for public transport. In order to give priority to the construction of the area of LRT, the demand is the main factor. Moreover, the more passengers, the more sustainable the operation of LRT will be. Only by that, it is helpful to the future extension of the LRT.

If, according to my assumption that the Chief Minister thinks that the population is the key factor in identifying the LRT corridor, I am even more puzzled by why the LRT goes to faraway places of sparsely populated areas. This is very undesirable and unwise.

What’s more, I wonder why the nearby areas of the Batu Kawa and Matang were excluded from the LRT plan. I thought the popular saying of BN that “vote BN for development” is true. It turns out to be just an April Fool’s lie.

Due to their distance from city centre and population density, there is no reason for Batu Kawa and Matang to be excluded from the LRT plan.

If it is a political consideration for LRT Corridor, it is even more unreasonable for both Matang and Baru Kawa to be left out. Matang has been stronghold area for BN all these while, while the two State seats in the Batu Kawa area (namely the “Batu Kawah” and the Batu Kitang) have been recaptured by SUPP.

I can’t help myself but to puzzle: what did the Chief Minister actually use to identify the LRT corridor?

Pakatan Harapan Government is determined to improve public transport system in all major cities in the Country. However BRT is our preferred transportation mode. We see the development of Public Transport to be done in gradually. It is pre mature to go straight to LRT while the current public transport system is not developed up to certain maturity.

Wong King Wei
SA FOR PADUNGAN
Speech by Wong King Wei at the Sarawak State Legislative Council, Kuching, Sarawak on Wednesday, 11th July 2018