High speed rail: the irrelevant Transport Minister

In a reply to my parliamentary question on the High Speed Rail by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, it is obvious that both the Minister/Ministry of Transport and Cabinet are bypassed in the decision making process.

According to Wahid, a feasibility study for the HSR project was presented to the Economic Council in June 2013 and the Economic Council directed SPAD, the Land Public Transport Commission, to implement the subsequent phase, namely Phase 2A.

I will comment on the cost aspects of the HSR project tomorrow. This statement will just focus on the institutional flaws of not having the Transport Minister/Ministry, as well as the Cabinet involved in the process.

My suspicion that the Cabinet was not involved in the discussion was confirmed by Wahid’s reply that it was the Economic Council which made the decision.

As of December 2015, the Economic Council consists of the following members:~

1. YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak – Chairman
 (Prime Minister of Malaysia)
2. YAB Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia)
3. YB Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid bin Omar
 (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department)
4. YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed
 (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
5. YB Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah
 (Minister of Finance II)
6. YBhg. Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa
 (Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia)
7. YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz
 (Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia)
8. YBhg. Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (
Secretary-General of Treasury)
9. YBhg. Datuk Seri Dr. Rahamat Bivi Yusoff
 (Director-General, Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department)
10. YB Senator Dato’ Sri Idris Jala
11. YBhg. Tan Sri Datuk Yong Poh Kon
12. YBhg. Dato’ Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid – Secretary
 (Head of Economic Council Secretariat)

The HSR project reveals one of the most ridiculous aspects of the governing structure of the Najib Government that the Transport Minister and Ministry is not involved and not even consulted on the planning of the costliest transport facility.

In 2010 when I raised the question of the absense of representation from Barisan Nasional parties, namely MCA, Gerakan, MIC and those from Sabah and Sarawak parties in the Economic Council, Najib added the then MCA president Chua Soi Lek as member of the Council.

Liow Tiong Lai apparently didn’t get the same treatment as Chua.
The usurpation of Cabinet by the Economic Council and the irrelevance of the Transport Minister/Ministry on the question of HSR is unacceptable and should be corrected.

I urge Liow Tiong Lai to take up the case to ensure that the Cabinet is not bypassed and the Transport Ministry is the central agency dealing with HSR.

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