KUANTAN: The decision to cancel the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is seen as a major blow to the east coast states in terms of transforming the economic landscape and the livelihood of the people.
State Tourism, Environment, Plantations and Biotechnology Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said the move to call-off the project which was once described as a “game changer” would certainly hamper development in the East Coast states. The five-term Lanchang assemblyman said he was upset that the Pakatan Harapan(PH) member of parliament did not fight for the people’s welfare and defend the ECRL project which will certainly offer greater connectivity and drastically shorten travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan. “The elected representatives should have fought for the future of their constituents but sadly they do not seem to share the aspiration of those living in the east coast.
“Now with the project cancelled. the states in the east coast will be certainly left behind in terms of development with nothing to look forward,” he said when contacted today. He added the project could have been cancelled because the ECRL would pass through Pahang, Terangganu and Kelantan, and all three states did not belong to Pakatan Harapan.
“During the previous government, we (Barisan Nasional) never sidelined Penang and Selangor (which were then ruled by the opposition) from enjoying economic growth and development,” he said. Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was on an five-day official visit to China, announced the cancellation of the ECRL and construction of two gas pipelines in Sabah, saying the projects could not go on due to Malaysia’s financial woes.
Meanwhile State MCA chairman Datuk Hoh Khai Mun said the people were disappointed by the decision as many were looking forward to ECRL as it offered an alternative mode of transport. He said the people in Bentong where one of the stations were currently being built were upset by the decision as many were hoping to secure jobs with the ECRL. “Several ECRL recruitment programmes have been held at various locations over the last few months. So what is going to happen to the aspiring job-seekers. I am not sure what will happen to the piece of land which was cleared for the Bentong ECRL station near the Karak Highway,” he said. Meanwhile, State Pas deputy commissioner Andansura Rabu described the move to cancel ECRL as “premature” since the Regent of Pahang Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had approved the Federal Government’s move to review the cost of the project. “Even Tengku Abdullah when opening the state assembly sitting recently hoped ECRL would still be built to create more economic growth. It is a major project and works have begun.....now we have to think about the compensation that has to be paid to the relevant parties,” he said, adding discussions and consultations should have been held to find another option instead of cancelling it. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd