Friday, January 30, 2015

A Few Issues on Kidex

Here's my statement on the current status of Kidex and our position. 

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin State Assemblyperson of Damansara Utama on Tuesday 27 January 2015.

On Keeping Quiet on Kidex

I am writing this to clarify the allegation that we have been keeping quiet on the issue of Kidex. We have not and will not run away from our responsibility to raise issues that concern the people.  

Before I go any further, I would like to stress here again that Kidex now holds neither the State government nor MBPJ approval. The only approval they have now is from the federal government, which is extended until 15 Feb 2015.

Since Kidex proposal came into picture in 2013, we’ve been asking for facts and figures to study the merits and demerits. In the case of a highway, a traffic impact assessment (TIA) is necessary for evaluation. In the mean time, we’ve also wanted the Work Ministry to prioritize public transport instead of building highway and suggested a public transport alternative to Kidex[1].

When the preliminary TIA became available, we studied the TIA, which covers the traffic impact of Kidex at 43 local roads, and exposed that Kidex Sdn Bhd and Work Ministry had been using partial statistics to claim that Kidex will reduce the traffic by 20 to 30%. We found that the overall traffic reduction that can be achieved by Kidex is only 5.8% upon completion (1,455,310 passenger car unit (PCU) with Kidex versus 1,545,553 PCU without Kidex) and will drop to only 3% ten years upon completion (1,858,531 PCU with Kidex versus 1,917,040 pcu without Kidex) [2]. When they rebutted on our findings, I’ve shown how they used creative mathematics to deceive the public[3].
I have also questioned the price tag of Kidex as the most expensive highway in terms of cost per km in the history of Malaysia. Its price tag is as high as RM 161 million per km compared to RM 28.57 million per km for NVKE, RM 33.18 million per km for LDP, RM 37.68 million per km for KESAS, RM 69.39 million per km for NPE and RM 95.06 million per km for Ampang KL Elevated Highway[4].  Even the nearest price tag is 40% lower than Kidex’s price.
Just last month, I raised the alarm bell when Department of National Unity and Integration invited 172 Rukun Tetangga in Petaling to Kidex briefing under the disguise of “Road to Unity “ Program.  We are worried of the possibility of Kidex Sdn Bhd using the signatures of attendance as a show of consent.

Above are just a few examples of the occasions that we raised the issue of Kidex based on facts, figures and rationales, one just have to google Kidex and our names to check out other concerns raised by us.

We have also been constantly engaging with the people on Kidex. We went to the public hearings held by Say No To Kidex (SNTK) one after another despite being repeatedly shouted at or thrown with harsh remarks by certain leaders of SNTK. This is because we believe in accountability. In the same spirit, we went to last Sunday rally and being accused of “keeping quiet” without a chance to even to speak to the people.

I hope the above will show that the allegation that we are keeping quiet on Kidex is completely baseless. We did not. Our approach is to evaluate the matter objectively based on facts and figures and constant engagement with the people.

Then why not reject Kidex now?

Shortly after Azmin Ali became the Menteri Besar of Selangor, he met with SNTK to discuss the 3 conditions and the dateline of 15 February 2015. This approach was agreed by SNTK committee back then. MB later announced the conditions and the dateline[5]. A government cannot be changing dateline by whims and fancies, so I believe it is more appropriate that the state government make the announcement on or after the dateline.

Why can’t Selangor government reject all highways and invest in public transport?

To put things into perspective, there’s a huge difference in budget between state and federal government due to fiscal centralization. This year Selangor tabled the biggest ever budget of RM2.42 billion but it still pales in comparison to the federal revised budget of RM 235 billion, which is about 100 times bigger. Kidex itself is RM2.42 billion, which is the size of Selangor annual budget, and MRT phase 1 line costs RM 25 billion, which is roughly 10 times the Selangor annual budget. In another words, the state government will not be able to afford any highway nor massive public transport infrastructure.

As other cities in Malaysia and around ASEAN region become increasingly competitive, connectivity becomes extremely important for Selangor to compete for investments and economic development. There are 6 highways proposed by the Federal Government. Should the state government reject all highways before even to study the merits and demerits of the highways? I believe that each highway proposed should be studied properly and cooperation between the state and federal government should be forged if it can be proven based on facts and figures that it benefits the people. In the mean time, recognizing the importance of public transport, MBPJ has on its own effort embarked on PJ Traffic Master Plan although public transport is a federal matter.

Is disagreeing with Kidex Petaling Jaya’s NIMBYism?

No. We’ve also received complains mainly from people outside of PJ that the elected representatives in PJ are opportunists who like to make popular decision such as disagreeing with Kidex to take care of our own backyard. I beg to differ.

According to the Journey Time Analysis of the TIA, which we requested from Kidex Sdn Bhd’s traffic consultant, the journey time saved with and without Kidex for trips within PJ is 1.31%, for trips to/from PJ is 2.66% and for trips not starting/ending in PJ is 0.38%. In other words, if Kidex is built, PJ residents will get marginally higher benefits than non-PJ residents.

Having said that, I would like to point out that the overall journey time saving with the construction of Kidex is very marginal. Overall, the journey time that will be saved by having Kidex compared to without Kidex is only 0.6% (2 million minutes potential saving for a total of 325 million minutes of travel time). In other words, we can’t even save one minute in an hour trip with Kidex!

Therefore, if the TIA of Kidex continues to show such dismal traffic reduction impact on 15 February 2015 and with the most expensive per km price tag, I don’t see any possibility that we’ll agree on the construction of the highway. It is not based on NIMBYism but on the proper evaluation of the cost and benefits of the project to the state of Selangor from the facts and figures presented to us.