Wednesday, February 20, 2013
He Did Hear Us
The proposed highspeed rail-link to Kuala Lumpur, a 90 minutes ride, is touted by PM Lee as a plan to transform two cities into "one virtual urban community". Just as Hong Kong has the hinterland of Kowloon to run away to for some breathing space, Singaporeans can soon take a train into KL for a respite of unspoiled nature and its surrounds.
His words are telling: "..at this retreat, we decided that we should make a statement that 'Yes we want this, we are working towards this', and I think we can make it work." The protesters at Hong Lim Park had held up placards saying that the prime minister doesn't listen too good, and the squeeze is getting unbearable. With this spillover to KL, the projection figure can now revert to a population target again.
IT geeks experiencing parking problems at Sim Lim Square can now have an alternative in Sungei Wang Plaza. Getting crowded out at Takashimaya? The mega malls of KL beckon you. The price tags are all in Malaysian ringgit.
Observers who say the fastest door-to-door commute has obvious economic and social benefit also highlighted that such a project will be costly to build and operate (Malaysian conglomerate YTL submitted a RM 8 billion proposal in 2006) . Which explains why Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew was grinning from ear to ear at the photo opportunity. Just the timely thing to justify another fare hike.
The other happy Minister has to be Khaw Boon Wan since the Najib-Lee talks covered a $3.2 billion township in Johor which includes two "wellness centers". Latter have to be euphemisms for homes for the aged Khaw had envisioned earlier, and roundly roasted for same. With the rail-link, shipping grandpa and grandma across the Causeway to live out their last days on earth will be more palatable when the weekly visits include convenient shopping at Johor Baru City Square.
What the promoters don't highlight is the horrendous traffic in KL. And Lee Kuan Yew did state in his affidavit submitted as part of proceedings against opposition politician Tang Liang Hong that the Malaysian state of Johor is “notorious for shootings, muggings and carjackings.” Lee was referring to Tang running there to escape from his persecutors, when he said “it does not make sense for a person who claims to be fearful for his life to go to a place like Johor.”