Archive for March 20th, 2007

RM9 billion double-tracking project – penny-wise and pound-foolish

RM 9 Billion Double-Track Project


I refer to the report stating that the Government now intends to go ahead with the RM9 billion double-track electrified railway which it earlier shelved 3 years ago. That this project is being revived so close to the elections only seems to increase rumors that the ruling party needs the money for the elections in the form of kickbacks. The project itself is poorly thought through.

KTM since British colonial times has been running services on meter-gauge tracks. Meter gauge tracks were basically designed at least during those days for industrial use and in Malaysia’s case — to transport tin.

However we failed to modernize and completely neglected our rail services in favour of road transport and continued using these meter gauges even for our passenger services.

In most parts of the world passenger services started running on standard or broad gauge.

To achieve decent transit times between KL and Penang etc, double tracking on a meter gauge will be slow and clearly will not be competitive.

Obviously this is a half measure as it seems the project is trying to avoid investing in rolling stock as would be the case if standard or broad gauge are adopted instead.

Simply put you cannot run a train fast if your tracks are not broad enough for stability at high speeds. For you to achieve speed and stability you need standard or broad gauge. Read the rest of this entry »


Class of “forgotten Malaysians”

Hi Kit Siang

I’m not sure if you’ll be reading this, or even why exactly I’m writing to you; but like other times after reading about the happenings in Malaysia through your blog, I am saddened and moved from deep within.

Allow me to introduce myself. I was born in Johor, in 1983 – making me 24 years of age this year. From a young age, from primary (or standard one) I studied in Singapore. Instantly, this placed me into a group of ‘forgotten Malaysians’ of which I still belong to today – do read on. I did not study in Singapore by choice, my parents decided to see put me there when I was 7, because being part of the Malaysia school system when the British system was employed -they were alarmed by the perceived drops in the levels of education in Malaysia at that time – and they really wanted me to grow up speaking good English…and Singapore was the closest country to have its curriculum in English at that time. I’m sure you can appreciate the incredible irony in Malaysia reversing on its decision years ago and teaching Math and Science in English now. And while I am most capable of invoking my own commentary and discourse on the subject and others like it, I shall resist the urge and refrain from doing so on this occasion, as I nevertheless will find myself doing throughout the rest of this email – as each instance of the incredulous policies and politicians that dominate our country come up.

But I digress. I studied in Singapore a full ten years, travelling DAILY from Johor Bahru, not residing in Singapore because, I guess, my parents wanted me to retain my unique Malaysian identity and “Malaysianess”. I do not have fond memories of my time in the country, although I did well at school, I guess, I dislike autocratic and freedom-curbing societies where the rights of the individual are sacrificed for the whims of the elected collective in the name of nation-building. That is not to say I do not understand the need for such measures at certain times – but I suppose I do not function well in countries where such practices are the norm.

At the end of my high school studies in Singapore, I made the decision to return to Malaysia. To study at a private college in KL. I had tried on past occasions when I was in high school, to do so, only to find out that I was not eligible to do so because I did not take Bahasa Melayu as my primary subject. As a result of studies in Singapore, where English was the medium of instruction and Mandarin was my ‘mother tongue’, I cannot speak fluent Malay to this day nor do I have the ability to write in it. Therefore, according to some quarters, I am not considered Malaysian. But was I to blame? I remained in KL a full 3 years, was one of the top students at my college for a worldwide course, until it was time for me to pursue my education overseas. Read the rest of this entry »