Selangor’s planning so long…

Selangor Planning Project To Rehabilitate Klang River

SHAH ALAM, Jan 22 — The Selangor government, which has identified river rehabilitation and development as a potential catalyst for growth and employment opportunity in the state, is planning to launch a project in the royal town of Klang.

If properly rehabilitated, the 120km long Klang River could be converted into an important waterway and the surrounding land transformed into premium real estate, Mentri Besay Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said this week.

He was speaking to a 20-men delegation from the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chambers of Commerce, which had asked for the special briefing.

With foreign direct investments on the decline, Malaysia’s most industrial state and business centre needs domestic investors to step up. But it is also hoping to find support for its long-term “economic stimulus packages” of which the rehabilitation and development of the Klang River and urban regeneration programmes are top priorities given their potential to value add and create jobs.

As the country’s most prosperous state, Selangor accounts for a fifth of its gross domestic product. The state’s fall to the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat in Election 2008 was a huge blow to the Barisan Nasional which has vowed to win Selangor back.

Khalid — formerly a corporate chieftain who headed the country’s biggest state asset management company, Permodalan Nasional, as well as plantation company Guthrie before he entered politics — will have his work cut out delivering growth for Malaysia’s most populous state.

According to state officials, Selangor’s population expanded by about 10 per cent last year and is expected to increase to 8-10 million in 2020 from slightly over 5 million as Malaysians throughout the country flock to the Klang Valley in search of better jobs.

State officials want to take a leaf out of Singapore’s clean up of the Singapore and Kallang rivers so that greater economic value can be derived from the Klang River, a third of which runs through Kuala Lumpur.

Although the potential from the “very big cake” is enormous, so are the challenges. Malaysia’s highly charged political environment aside, illegal settlements and waste discharge — both industrial and human — are also daunting obstacles. Moreover, the state lacks the requisite funds.

Even so, it appears committed to funding the land surveys and studies which companies would need if they are to participate — envisaged in the form of private finance initiatives — in the river rehabilitation programme.

Khalid has been assuring businessmen that the state wants to create an environment conducive for their business, and in this week’s meeting with the tycoons, he quipped: “I will be worried if you are not making money.”

Among the delegation were the Association of Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia president and Lion group chieftain William Cheng, association deputy secretary-general David Chua and property magnate Teo Chiang Kok of See Hoy Chan Holdings.

Although still in early stages, the state’s request for proposals resulted in 12 submissions, including a few which had roped in foreign partners from Singapore, Korea and the Netherlands.

“There were different submissions. Some for rehabilitation of the river, some for development, and some for water transport operation,” said Tricia Yeoh who is research officer to Khalid. Three were short- listed and another two were asked to revert with further details.

The proposed maiden project is “quite a holistic cleaning up” she said, but added the agreement has not been signed. Yeoh said the government is looking for people who have worked on the Singapore river cleaning projects, “to advise us based on proposals received.” — Business Times Singapore


wait, wait…don’t get too excited. below is the news dated a year ago….

Selangor’s RM50b transport plan

Published: 2009/01/23

MALAYSIA’S richest state, which surrounds the capital, Kuala Lumpur, plans to solve the area’s chronic congestion with a public-transport blueprint including boats and trains that may cost RM50 billion (US$14 billion).

The 10-year program involves turning the brown Klang River, flowing west from Kuala Lumpur through Selangor state, into a waterway clean enough to attract commuters, said Khalid Ibrahim, the state’s chief minister. The cleanup alone may cost RM10 billion, he said.

“Kuala Lumpur needs it as much as we need it,” Khalid, 62, said in an interview at his office in Shah Alam, the Selangor state capital that’s about 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Kuala Lumpur. “In order to use this river, I have a nightmare. The quality is more than toxic.”

Khalid has invited proposals from overseas contractors to purge the river and he wants to unveil transport plans for his state and the capital as early as March. Hours wasted in traffic jams and squeezed in buses erode 2 per cent from Malaysia’s US$181 billion economy a year, according to the government, just as the nation is trying to avoid a recession amid the global slowdown.

Neighbouring Singapore started cleaning its rivers in 1977 under a US$200 million program ordered by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. It took a decade to clean six rivers and reverse the effect of years of industrial waste, domestic sewage and farm effluents, according to the government.

Mentality Change

“The nearest and best model to follow is probably Singapore, but Malaysia may need more time,” said Zulkifli Yusop, director of the Institute of Environmental and Water Resource Management at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Johor, south Malaysia. “Our mentality has to change. You have to stop pollution at the very source.”

France’s Veolia Environnement SA, the world’s biggest water company, Paris-based Suez Environnement SA, the second-largest in Europe, and General Electric Co of the US, are among those offering water-treatment services. In Malaysia, YTL Corp is vying to clean the nation’s rivers. Khalid didn’t say which businesses he asked to work on the Klang River.

The project will lure Malaysians onto the waterway for recreation, attract homebuyers to the riverbanks and take commuters off the roads, Khalid said. Since the river flows through the capital, Khalid said his transport development goals must be agreed on with Kuala Lumpur authorities.

“We have to establish river protocol, how funding can be used, and also the real-estate development surrounding the river,” he said. “It’s a feasible business plan over a period of time.”

Planning Requirements

About 90 per cent of Selangor residents drive their own cars to work, the same proportion that uses public transport in Hong Kong, Khalid said. In Singapore and Manila, more than half the population uses public transport, the Malaysian government has said.

The chief minister, who started his job last March, plans to coax half the state’s commuters onto buses, boats and trains over the next decade. Property-development proposals in Selangor will be rejected unless their designs are geared toward meeting that goal, he said.

The state of Selangor, which accounts for 25 per cent of Malaysia’s economy, doesn’t include Kuala Lumpur. The capital city is officially a federal territory.

Khalid said companies might finance the project themselves in return for land or other incentives. It would also be in the interests of the federal government to help with funds, he said. He didn’t provide any details on how the project might be funded.

“Now I have to juggle the politics so that the federal government will feel it’s their idea, not mine,” Khalid said. “So long as I get a clean river and public transport, I don’t mind.” – Bloomberg

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