The accumulative negative perception with regards to many projects and programs made by the ruling party in Malaysia leads to the mega-phobia in Malaysia. What I define as mega-phobia is the resistance by the public for any large projects or programs when they heard it for the first time. It is solely based upon the first response that is embedded in many minds that large projects never bring benefits but instead act like a source of waste and leakages. It is like a knee-jerk reaction; when they heard anything big, they will say 'kita tak boleh buat apa-apa pun projek besar-besar, membazir je'.
Seriously, I may agree with this notion or even a dogma I would say, but with the static development during Pak Lah's era, I don't see any major changes because there was no significant mega projects. The era brought to us the ideas of economic corridors; that cheered me up for sometimes until I further notice that no major changes are happening. That makes me agree totally with Mahathir's approach to spend and from there, multiple effects occur at the same time. You may say that the investment in software (human capital, education) is much more important than hardware (physical infrastructure, buildings, transport system), but the underlying principle is that you cannot move forward without providing the ecosystem that has both of them. Both investments should be coherent in its goals and move at the same pace.
The recent Budget announced brought this large wave of phobia to Malaysians. Like many times before, there is no focused arguments. What I meant by this is that no arguments that really hit on the points. Macam dia bangkang tapi dengan alasan entah apa-apa. I call this deviation of arguments. Why is it deviating? The reasons come in the form of deviations like bringing us to another issues which have no relationship with that particular things whatsoever. Example, with the massive amount of money, why not build schools, help the poor etc. It doesn't hit the point. Instead of asking why, many weak arguments will respond with " why not..."s. It happens all the time. Period.
The Warisan Merdeka project has actually overshadowed many other more mega projects. I see a higher return of investment in the tower rather than the RM40 billion MRT project. In property market, the tower obviously will increase the prices of land. It costs 1/8 of the total cost of MRT. There is no MRT project in the world that brings large profits. In fact, in many countries, they cost of running it is shared with other sources of income even in our neighbouring country. Logically if I would want to protest, I'd rather protest the MRT project because first, the RM40 billion, second, the involved companies have never mentioned the prospect of getting the funds and no concrete confidence. However, when PNB says it has enough money already then you want to protest. This is the kind of private investments that we really need, but what the hell, the mega-phobia is still there. Tak faham la. With the track record of MRT projects around the world, ours has much potential to become 'gajah putih' compared to the tower. It is not that I'm saying that I oppose this project, but the SELECTION OF PRIORITY TO PROTEST MEGA PROJECTS is not right. What it means is that many who protest, don't even know what to protest and don't even have hard facts for their reasons. I think it is a political play and others just follow. Wooo...
The KLCC had cost RM1.2 billion, in 2004 the Twin Towers worth RM4.5 billion and Suria KLCC at RM1.5 billion. We get 5.7 from 1.2. Mind you, it it its value, not hard cash. Kang nanti cakap 'dah untung tu kenapa ada lagi orang miskin, tak boleh pergi hospital'.
Penang Bridge, needless to say is very important huh, until you all cannot wait for the second one to be completed.
'Some' Politicians want to sell Sepang International Circuit for RM 300 million in 1999. Well, you know.. they all say it's wasteful and and useless. Yet a University Malaya study suggested that the first race brought in about RM500 million to Malaysia in tourism receipts, publicity and business opportunities. (NST October 24, 2010).
How does these mega projects affect the average Awangs, Farhans, Ains, Yongs and Rajs on the street?
Awang, SPM holder
- If he is very hardworking and willing to work in constructions, of course the employment is there to build all of the towers, rails and buildings in KLFID.
The problem is that many does not want this because they are lazy or maybe the salary is too low. The latter problem should be addressed by the government, but the first one, I think that is the reason why we have to bring in so many hardworking Nepalese or Bangladeshi in construction. So, employment opportunity.
Farhan, trained economist, business graduates, and related courses la..
- There is KLFID in which we want to make it an Islamic Financial hub, so employment huh?
-Hmm..well, we have MRT so easy to shopping2 every morning. Cheap tickets, no need to isi minyak..so jimat la. I
If a housewife in kampung, boleh naik basikal. Takkan nak MRT gak kot..
-If he's in any big company, of course his company will bid for those projects or even buy lands around the proposed sites and develop their properties. Wealthier, huh?
Raj, small contractor
-In building the mega-projects, of course we need the landscape, the sidewalks, the drains...so small contractors got many projects. If ali baba, their own fault la. Government gives opportunity, they destroy it.
If they do nothing at all, how do we develop ourselves? The projects give you opportunities for you to grow. We don't simply give RM5 billion to companies so they raise the salaries of Malaysian worker or to food companies so they reduce the market prices of food. It has to be through these ways; through opportunities. Okay, I give you a situation. There's a very poor family in front of your house and you happen to be rich. You have cash in your savings. In the first week, you give the family rice, clothes and many more stuffs because of empathy. Then, next week, the poor family has no more rice. Habis la kan? Would you give more rice? Or would you hire one of the family members to clean your house everyday and give him/her salaries enough to buy food every month? You give the opportunity to this family to get income, but what if the family says no? The same thing happens to many people, they don't grab the opportunities. Bulan tak akan jatuh ke riba, kita kena buat kapal angkasa nak pergi ke sana!
*names given are for narrative purpose only
I quote Zainul Arifin of NST
Social convention suggests that when we have nothing good to say, it's best to keep quiet; and if we want to say something negative, to make sure we get our facts right.
ps: Hope the Malaysian team will get first place in The Amazing Race Asia again next week. Yeah, Malaysia Boleh!
-The Chukai Insider