Malaysiakini - Decision to scrap HSR should have followed due process, says Cenbet
Friday, June 01, 2018
The cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project should have been decided by the cabinet prior to its announcement last week as a matter of good governance, said civil society group Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet).

Cenbet co-president Gan Ping Sieu said in a statement today that while they support the new government's efforts to review potentially wasteful projects and lopsided deals, such decisions should have followed due process to prevent abuse of power and leaks.

“Based on media reports, Transport Minister Anthony Loke was reported to have said that the matter was not discussed in Cabinet prior to the prime minister's May 28 announcement that the project would be shelved.

“Rightfully, cancelling a project of such magnitude, involving transnational interests, ought to have gone through a more structured decision-making process,” said Gan.

He said such a process would have included preparing a cabinet paper and gaining feedback from all relevant agencies and state governments.

Gan further quoted news reports that Mahathir’s announcement was made after chairing a Bersatu supreme council meeting and not in his capacity as prime minister.

“The Federal Constitution is clear that the cabinet is the highest executive body.

“The manner in which the announcement was made runs counter to the spirit of accountability and transparency pledged by the new federal government,” said Gan.

Two days after his first announcement, Mahathir had on May 30 confirmed that the cabinet had decided to halt the HSR project, as well as the third Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT3) line project.

As such, Gan cautioned that the move could undermine the public’s perception towards the cabinet’s decisions on matters of national interest.

“The eventual May 30 cabinet decision can be perceived as an afterthought and clearly without going through sufficient consultation.

“If decisions on an RM110 billion megaproject can be made without stringent due process, we are worried that this may set a bad precedent in deciding other government projects,” said Gan.

He added that such decisions also undermine institutional integrity, which should never be compromised for political expediency.

The 350km HSR project was initially scheduled to be completed by 2026.

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