Parliamentary Speech, 8th March 2018 – First Session of Parliament

I am thankful for this opportunity to deliver my speech on the motion of thanks for the royal address by His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Before I continue my speech, I request the permission of my friends on this side and over on that side as I have many issues to debate; therefore, I will not have time to give way to interventions.

I wish to take this opportunity to raise several issues which will give a more accurate picture of Barisan Nasional (BN)’s track record under the leadership of The Hon. Prime Minister (MP for Pekan) approaching GE14, so that the rakyat can know the truth about BN’s track record.

1) Public Transportation

The first issue that I wish to raise concerns BN’s track record on public transportation, specifically in the Klang Valley. I do not deny that some measures taken by the BN government, such as the construction of the MRT Line 1 from Sungai Buloh to Kajang (SBK), have increased the numbers of rail passengers in the Klang Valley. I also do not deny that the MRT has and continues to benefit the residents of several areas in my constituency, such as Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras Batu 11, and Jalan Bukit in Kajang. However, in terms of passenger numbers or ‘ridership’, there are many more weaknesses which have not yet been overcome. Here, I want to mention a few examples.

The ridership for the MRT SBK Line reached a record 135,000 passengers in August 2017 last year. However, MRT’s target is 150,000 passengers per day. MRT’s capacity is actually 400,000 passengers per day. The 135,000 passenger record was reached while the MRT was still new and a 50% discount was given in July and August after the MRT SBK Line was opened. When this discount period ended, the number of passengers per day for the MRT SBK Line fell to 103,000 passengers in September 2017. The same thing happened to the Kelana Jaya LRT and Ampang LRT lines. Daily ridership fell from 262,000 passengers in August to 219,000 passengers in September for the Kelana Jaya LRT line, and fell from 196,000 passengers in August to 157,000 in September for the Ampang LRT line. The Monorail’s performance in terms of daily ridership saw a decline from 56,000 passengers in January 2017 to 34,000 passengers in September 2017.

This shows that a majority of public transportation users in Klang Valley are ‘price sensitive’ and that LRT and MRT fares are currently too expensive. Here is one example: someone who uses the LRT from the Puchong station to Bandar Sunway via the BRT will be charged RM9 for a one-way trip. A two-way trip costs RM18. Add on the cost of petrol and parking, and this person will be forced to spend RM25 per day.[1]

To overcome the issue of transportation costs, Pakatan Harapan intends to introduce a RM100 monthly public transportation pass which will provide unlimited rides. Prior to the increase in LRT and KTM fares in December 2015, such a pass was provided by Rapid KL at a cost of RM150. However, after ticket prices were increased, the supply of these passes ceased. If PH becomes the government after GE14, we will surely introduce this RM100 public transportation pass which will help to decrease travel costs for public transportation users and at the same time increase ridership for all types of public transportation in Klang Valley whether it is the Rapid KL bus service, LRT, MRT or KTM Komuter.

At the same time, daily ridership for KTM Komuter has fallen. From 137,500 passengers in Quarter 1 of 2015, daily ridership has fallen to 99,000 passengers as of Quarter 3 of 2017. I am aware that the upgrading work for KTM Komuter via the Klang Valley Double Tracking (KDVT) upgrade is underway and expected to be completed by 2019. However, even as this upgrading project is ongoing, the frequency of accidents and also derailment of trains has increased at an alarming rate. There were 23 incidents of accidents and derailments which occurred from the beginning of 2016 up till February 2018, including a serius cargo train derailment which happened at the Bank Negara station on 23 Nov 2017. This incident disrupted KTM and KTM Komuter services for almost two weeks.

I am not sure that the KVDT project will decrease the accident and derailment rate. SPAD has investigated the derailment at Bank Negara station and I urge the Minister to reveal the results of SPAD’s investigation, as well as the actions that have been and will be taken by KTM to decrease the chances of incidents like this happening again.

I also want to remind the Minister that we are still waiting for the formation of the Malaysian Transportation Safety Board (MTSB), which is the statutory body that should be investigating accidents for all modes of transportation including rail accidents. This statutory body should have been set up in December 2016 but until today, we have not seen any signs that its draft bill will be tabled during the current Parliamentary session.

At the same time, the project to upgrade KTM’s infrastructure has suffered many delays, such as the Skypark Terminal extension linking the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (which is the old Subang airport) to the Subang Jaya KTM station. This extension was proposed in order to service passengers who are departuring from the low-cost aiport at Skypark Terminal. In addition, this extension would also enable KTM Cargo to bring new cargo from the Subang airport to other destinations. The completion date for this Skypark project was originally expected to be February 2016 but was then delayed. Up till now, there has been no official announcement about the competion and launch date of this this Skypark Terminal Line.

In my opinion, KTM is like a stepchild that has been neglected by the government due to the attention paid to other projects such as the MRT, LRT Line 3, ECRL and High Speed Rail (HSR). I refer to the Railway Network Access Agreement (RNAA) which should have begun in January 2018. Under this agreement, which will last for 30 years, all KTMB assets including land, rails, trains or ‘rolling stock’, stations and staff quarters will be given to the Railway Asset Corporation (RAC) or Perbadanan Aset Keretapi (PAK). The principle of this agreement is to enable KTM to focus more on operational aspects and reduce costs of servicing assets such as tracks and ‘rolling stock’. But doesn’t KTM have to pay monthly rental to RAC to use ‘rolling stock’, tracks and stations too?

At the same time, I want to ask the Minister if KTM’s debts which were incurred due to purchases of new ‘rolling stock’ will also be transferred to RAC. For example, will RM575.5 million in debts incurred to buy 80 ‘Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU)’ trains in 1990 and 1995 be transferred to RAC? I also request that the Minister explain whether KTMB’s request to postpone debt repayments of RM880 million to the year 2021 will be approved by the Cabinet or if these debts will transferred to RAC.

I also request that the Minister explain if the RNAA agreement will give RAC the power to allow other companies including private companies to compete with KTM in terms of cargo and passenger services. Will the opening of markets under RNAA cause KTM’s income to suffer and thereafter affect KTM’s financial position in terms of its capability to continue providing services, as a going concern?

On the subject of the ECRL, I request that the Minister explain why the ECRL’s construction costs are RM55 billion since, according to the EIA report and Parliamentary answer to my question last year, this project consists of a ‘single track on a double track formation’ which means that only one track will be built under the ECRL.

I also want to address the issue of ‘smart transportation’ which involves Rapid KL bus services. One problem faced by bus users involves unpredictable bus schedules. Much time is wasted when passengers wait for the bus, and this is also an obstacle that discourages more people from using public bus services. One way to overcome this problem is to provide information on what time the bus will arrive at a specific location. With smart phones, this information can be conveyed accurately via a ‘mobile application’ or ‘app’. In fact, all ‘real time’ location information for Rapid KL buses in the Klang Valley can be found at Rapid KL’s depot in Balakong. I also have visited this depot. Unfortunately, this information is not conveyed in ‘real time’ to users.

Last May (in 2017), MAMPU organized an Open Data Day on Universiti Malaya premises where Prasarana shared ‘real time’ data for Bus. No. 789 which passes through UM. The ‘real time’ location data for Bus No. 789 was then shared via an application created by a private company, WRZIT Sdn. Bhd. After this event, the information provided by WRZIT was not updated. Such applications should be provided by Rapid KL itself and not private companies.

As an example, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has created the ‘PJ City Bus’ application which shows ‘real time’ locations for all its free buses which are traveling on the roads.

The Selangor state government has also launched a ‘real time’ bus location tracking application which is the Selangor Intelligent Transport System (SITS). This application can detect ‘real time’ locations for all free Selangorku buses in Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Ampang Jaya, Klang, Kajang, Selayang, Sepang, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Langat, Sabak Bernam and Kuala Selangor. This application shows the bus’ plate number, bus stops along the route and also the estimated time of arrival.

Why isn’t SPAD instructing Rapid KL to provide ‘real time’ location information for Rapid KL buses, unlike what the Selangor state government is doing?

2) Renewable Energy

The second issue which I want to raise concerns Tenaga Boleh Baharu (TBB) or renewable energy (RE). Although the Prime Minister has voiced a commitment to decrease greenhouse gases, this commitment is unclear in terms of actual action. According to the Parliamentary answer provided in 2015, the supply of ‘generation fuel mix’ from coal will increase from 42% in 2014 to 65% in 2022 for Peninsular Malaysia. At the same time, the supply of RE is projected to increase from 1% in 2014 to 3% in 2025. This RE target contradicts the target announced by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) which is far higher at 11% or  2080MW by the year 2020. This shows the failure of the BN government to invigorate the market for Solar PV and energy generation from RE sources.

I want to give another example. The KETTHA Minister had made a decision to introduce Net Energy Metering (NEM) as a way to increase electricity generation through Solar PV and replace the Feed In Tariff (FIT). KETTHA had allocated only 500MW from 2016 to 2020, with a maximum limit of 100MW a year for NEM.

Unfortunately, according to SEDA’s NEM website on 29 January 2018, the NEM quota approved for Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah is 8.69MW. Therefore, the 100MW per year quota under NEM was not even achieved!

There are two reasons why the approval rate for NEM is so low.

Firstly, the rate at which we can ‘sell back’ energy generated by Solar PV is very little at 31 cents per kWH. In comparison, the FIT rate begins at 67 cents for installations under 4kW. At the same time, we need to ‘buy’ electricity from TNB at a tiered tariff rate beginning at 21.8 cents for the first 200kWh, 33.4 cents for the next 100kWh, 51.6 cents for the next 300kWh, 54.6 cents for the next 300kWh, and finally 57.1 cents for usage over 900kWh.

Secondly, unless the value of electricity generated by a solar PV system in a month is more than the value of electricity used, where the billing amount is nett positive, this amount will be credited into the TNB user’s account. The user cannot take out this credit from the TNB account and use it to pay a portion of the installation costs for a Solar PV system. And this credit can only remain in the account for 24 months, after which it will be invalidated.

Because of these two reasons, the rate of return for installing Solar PV under NEM is very low. This means that the incentive for users in Malaysia to install Solar PV is very low. The low rate of applications for NEM means that companies which sell Solar PV and companies which install Solar PV seldom receive orders from customers. This also restricts the growth of green jobs in Malaysia!

This issue is very relevant considering the decision by the United States Department of Commerce on 22 January 2018 to impose a new tariff of 30% on imported solar PV, where the largest source happens to be solar PV from Malaysia. I do want to ask the Minister of International Trade what are the actions being taken by the Malaysian government to oppose this move by the United States government which is led by Donald Trump, a good friend of The Hon. MP for Pekan. At the same time, I also want to ask the KETTHA Minister what actions will be taken to develop the local market for Solar PV through NEM.

I am aware that the Ministry has given quotas to several companies to construct Large Scale Solar (LSS) or Solar Farms which are Solar PV Installations over 10MW. But as far as I know, as of today not a single Solar Farm has been constructed in Malaysia, including the Solar Farms under 1MDB Solar which is now known as Edra Solar which had been given a solar farm quota of 500MW in 2014. This is not to mention the 50MW solar farm planned in Kuala Ketil Kedah, which until now has not been built either.

Therefore, I urge the Minister to explain the RE plans for Malaysia which have not met their targets so far.

3) Tolls

The third issue that i want to address is the issue of tolls. The intention of The Hon. Prime Minister to abolish tolls is a good one. However, I want to ask why the PM is only taking over tolls which are making huge losses such as the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) in Johor and not taking over tolls which are making huge profits such as the LDP, since the costs of taking back tolls does not depend on a concession’s profits or losses but depends on a toll concession’s construction costs and capital costs. I also want to take this opportunity to request that the Minister inform this august House the total cost spent on taking over the EDL concessionaire, and the total cost spent on abolishing the tolls at Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau, and if there are any toll concessionaires under PLUS who enjoyed extended contracts due to the abolishment of tolls at Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau.

I also want to pay special attention to the BESRAYA toll concession agreement where a portion of it is located in my constituency of Serdang. Many people do not know that the government, specifically the Ministry of Public Works, can take action towards toll concessionaires based on the concession agreement if traffic jams on the BESRAYA highway are serious and ongoing.

Under the concession agreement, BESRAYA must ensure a Level of Service (LOS) of Grade “C” at the toll plaza and at intersections before and after the toll. A Level of Service (LOS) of Grade “C” means a stable flow of traffic. However, in reality, the Level of Service after the Sungai Besi BESRAYA toll during peak hour is at Grade “F” which means bumper-to-bumper traffic.

According to the concession agreement, if the traffic flow falls below a LOS of Grade “C”, the toll concessionaire has to appoint a traffic consultant to do a traffic assessment. If the traffic consultant confirms that the LOS has fallen to below Grade “C”, the concessionaire has to implement flexible tolls. This means that during peak hours, the toll rate must be reduced by at least 10%. This is to encourage more users to use the toll roads during non-peak hours.

If the reduction of the peak hour toll rate fails to restore the LOS to Grade “C”, the concession holder must upgrade the toll plaza’s infrastructure and its surroundings with its own funds. While awaiting the infrastructure upgrades, the concessionaire has to pay an amount equivalent to 10% of the projected cost of upgrading each month until the works are completed. For example, if the upgrading works cost RM10 million, the concession company has to pay RM1 million per month to the government until the upgrading is completed.

The failure of the Ministry of Public Works to take any action towards the BESRAYA company clearly shows that the BN government has no political will to take over toll concession holders. In contrast, the BN government has no problem paying millions of RM to toll concession holders as compensation for not increasing toll rates. The total compensation paid to BESRAYA from the beginning of the concession period until 2015 is RM77.6 million. I urge the government to pressure BESRAYA to solve the traffic jam problems at the Sungai Besi toll and to fine the BESRAYA company according to the terms and conditions of the concession agreement, as long as the traffic problems have not been solved.

4) Sports issues (Leo Tan’s marathon record)

The fourth issue that I wish to address concerns sports.

I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Leo Tan Huong Leong and also Muhaizar Muhamad for their achievements at the 2018 Tokyo Marathon which was recently held on 24 February, where both these athletes smashed the national marathon record with a time of 2 hours 25 minutes and 32 seconds for Leo Tan Huong Leong and 2 hours 27 minutes and 21 seconds for Muhaizar Muhamad. Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility that the Malaysian Athletics Federation (Kesatuan Olahraga Malaysia or KOM) will not recognize the record that was achieveed in Tokyo. Because Leo Tan and Muhaizar are not listed as elite athletes, they were not allowed to undergo the doping test that is needed for this record to be recognized by KOM.

What KOM should have done is to write a letter to the Japan Athletics Federation before the Tokyo Marathon to request that these two Malaysian athletes be allowed to undergo the doping test if they succeeded in smashing the Malaysian marathon records. Unfortunately, the president of KOM, Datuk Karim Ibrahim, did not write an official letter to his counterpart in Japan. Because of this, the two Malaysian athletes could not undergo the doping test.

This is not the first time where such an incident has happened. Leo Tan had broken the national marathon record during the Tokyo Marathon in 2017 but because he could not undergo the doping test, his record was not recognized by KOM. The Tokyo Marathon 2018 was also the first time that Muhaizar Muhamad, the bronze medallist for the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, participated in a marathon outside of Malaysia. To the members of this august House, let me explain that the performance of marathon athletes in countries with cold climates is far better than their performance in countries with hot climates and which are also humid like Malaysia. Hence, the high likelihood of Muhaizar breaking the national record at the 2018 Tokyo Marathon.

Therefore, I urge the Minister for Youth and Sports to explain why the president of KOM did not fulfill his responsibility which was to obtain permission for our country’s athletes to undergo the doping test at the recent Tokyo Marathon. I also request that the Minister inform this august House whether Leo Tan and Muhaizar will be given any awards for their achievements, including cash rewards. As a comparison, Yuta Shitara, who succeeded in achieving a new national marathon record at the recent Tokyo Marathon, was awarded a bonus of 100 million yen (about RM3.6 million) and hailed as a national hero in Japan.

5) Upgrading Jalan Besar in Seri Kembangan

The last issue that I wish to address concerns the plans to upgrade Jalan Besar in Seri Kembangan. The plans to carry out these upgrading plans have been prepared by JKR Selangor but I am still waiting for the approval of Federal Government funds under RMK11. I have asked about this issue many times but the answer given to me is that funds have not yet been approved under the RMK11 Rolling Plan. I hope that the Ministry can approve the funds so that this plan can solve the traffic problems at Jalan Besar, Seri Kembangan.

[1] http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2016/08/23/why-the-lrt-isnt-worth-the-switch/