ECRL cancellation the right move, says Sahabat Alam Malaysia

Audrey Dermawan

GEORGE TOWN: Non-governmental organisation Sahabat Alam Malaysia has lauded the government’s decision to cancel the implementation of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the Federal government’s decision to cancel the ECRL project should not be a temporary decision but a permanent one.

“SAM hopes that the decision to cancel the project is not only because of the excessive cost but had taken into account its impact on the environment, especially the destruction of forests and natural areas.

“It is also our hope that the Federal government would review and refine other project proposals that could have significant impacts on the environment, as contained in one of the initiatives in the Pakatan Harapan’s 14th general election manifesto,” he said.

Idris said all development planning, especially involving land-use change to be implemented by the Federal government and all state governments, should refer to and take into account and not contradictory to all policies, physical planning plans, regulations and environmental-related guidelines.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced the cancellation of the ECRL during a recent trip to China. Also cancelled was the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline project.

He had said that Malaysia’s decision had been conveyed to Chinese leaders, who understood and accepted it.

The decision, however, was not well-received by the Terengganu and Pahang governments.

Terengganu Menteri Besar Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar had said that the government should call for new tenders for companies interested in undertaking the project at a lower cost, stressing that it was a waste to abandon the project just like that as work had started.

Pahang state Tourism, Environment, Plantations and Biotechnology chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin had said that the cancellation of the project, which was once described as a “game-changer“, would hamper development in east coast states. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd