Kuala Lumpur, 10 September 2020, – IDEAS, a think tank, says both the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Harapan were not transparent on the ECRL project.
It says key information such as the feasibility study and the Environmental Impact Assessment were not made publicly available.
They failed to meet international accepted standards for transparency.
“Both the original ECRL project under Barisan Nasional and the revised project negotiated by Pakatan Harapan failed to meet internationally accepted standards for transparency,” it says.
On the other hand, Tricia Yeoh, CEO of IDEAS, says, “ Large infrastructure projects such as the ECRL require a significant amount of public funding.
“The government must ensure that the decisions around these projects are based on achieving value for money and high-quality service delivery, while supported through comprehensive feasibility studies.
“These studies should also be published as part of a robust assurance process.
Hence, Ideas calls on the PN government to publish the ECRL project feasibility study before renegotiating any further.
“The Perikatan Nasional should publish the feasibility study before the renegotiation. The publication will signal this government’s commitment to a higher standard of infrastructure transparency.”
RENEGOTIATION WITH CHINA
The Minister of Transport confirmed on Wednesday that the Perikatan Nasional government is seeking another renegotiation to the ECRL alignment.
The minister said that the realignment “has the potential to lower project costs and reduce the amount of time required”. (The Edge Malaysia, 8 September 2020)
IDEAS says it welcomes the current government’s intention to lower the cost of the project.
“However, we call on the government to provide the public with a feasibility study that comprehensively shows that the proposed realignment exercises will indeed lower costs and save time.”
Internationally accepted standards for transparency require the government to publish key project information such as the estimated project budget, necessary land and property acquisition, price of materials, environmental impacts, and mitigation measures that would be available through the publication of feasibility studies and Environmental Impact Assessments.
In 2019, the Pakatan Harapan renegotiated the project to reduce the cost of the project. Months of negotiations indeed resulted in a project cost reduction of RM21.5 billion and a significant realignment of the ECRL including the now contested Section C portion.
The significant cost reduction from RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion had been based on a comprehensive value engineering exercise, but no such report on the exercise had ever been published to the public either.
“This is a perfect opportunity for the current government to demonstrate higher transparency standards than the previous two administrations.
“Providing comprehensive information on large infrastructure projects that abide by international standards will set Perikatan Nasional apart from its predecessors, and set a good example within the region as well”, says Tricia.