Liew: M’sians better off without ‘big toys’ like KLIA, Putrajaya

Rebutting the argument by Second Finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah that mega projects were needed for the country, Bukit Bendera member of parliament Liew Chin Tong said the country would have been better off without Putrajaya and KLIA – two landmark mega projects undertaken during the era of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Ahmad Husni had earlier brushed off growing criticism over the so-called Warisan Merdeka project in Kuala Lumpur, which includes the construction of a 100-storey tower by the government’s Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB).

“If that is the case, then government decided no KLIA, no Putrajaya, no Penang Bridge, and no (Petronas) Twin Towers. What would the position of the country be now? We must look at things rationally and with a proper, ordered mindset. If not, the country will not move,” he was quoted as saying.

Liew however said the astronomical cost of maintaining these sites far outweighed their benefits to the country.

“Federal Government pays Putrajaya Holdings RM 1 billion per annum as rental for buildings. Putrajaya’s grass cutting and landscaping cost alone is RM 18 million per annum. Better without it,” said Liew, who in recent weeks have been scrutising prime minister Najib Razak’s 2011 budget speech and found several ‘mistakes’ and ‘cover-ups’.

Liew said if there were a choice to ‘turn back time’, he would opt not to have the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, but instead expand the former airport in Subang, Selangor, and cited the successful Changi international airport in Singapore as an example.

Liew also recalled Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech during the grand opening of the Petronas twin towers, and said it was proof that the mega structure had nothing to do with the economy.

“The Twin Towers, to our ego, is like a soupbox to a shortie,” he quoted the former UMNO strongman as saying.

There has been intense opposition to the latest plan for the 100-storey tower, not least among the online community. A Facebook page dedicated to oppositing the project has attracted more than 160,000 fans barely a week since being launched. (Click here).

‘Moving people, not cars’

Liew said there had been many misplaced priorities in the just announced budget, and cited its “wrong focus” in the transportation sector.

Saying there was nothing in it to improve public transport apart, Liew said the vendor proposed mass rapid transit (MRT) could not be a solution to traffic woes as “it meant to be stand alone and unconnected.”

“Mobility is the key. Moving the people, not cars,” he added, referring to plans in the budget for more highways for motorists.

Rejecting an allegation that he was “anti-development”, Liew said he had only wanted to ensure that the development could be sustainable, adding that he did not favour “big toys” and ‘unplanned development schemes’.

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