PETALING JAYA,Nov 23: The Melaka government has been urged to be transparent about its decision to terminate the RM43 billion Melaka Gateway reclamation project.
The state government must disclose why the project was cancelled, said economists Barjoyai Bardai and Yeah Kim Leng.
Barjoyai, who is with Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, said the state government must disclose the circumstances which caused it to take the drastic action of asking the developer to vacate the premises within 14 days.
He also questioned if there were any political motives for the cancellation.
Yeah, who is with Sunway University, said transparency was required about any breach in terms and conditions so that a win-win situation could be achieved for both parties.
He said present and potential investors are monitoring developments. “It will impact Melaka state as investors may be cautious unless there is transparency.”
However, business consultant Hoo Ke Ping, an adviser at Kingsley Strategic Institute, questioned the viability of Melaka Gateway and its ability to compete with Singapore.
“Singapore’s ports have been built up over decades and are among the biggest in the world. Would Melaka Gateway be able to compete?” he said.
Hoo said the Melaka project is part of China’s One Belt, One Road project and it should be scrutinised properly to see if it was sustainable in the long run.
The Melaka chief minister’s office said on Nov 16 that the state government had terminated the land reclamation agreement with property developer KAJ Development as the agreement, signed in October 2017, had expired on Oct 3 this year.
A termination notice was sent to the company after it failed to complete the project, the chief minister’s office said.
On Nov 21, KAJ Development founder and chief executive Michelle Ong said the company was slapped with a termination notice with “no reason given”.
Ong said RM700 million had been spent on the project so far, with 40% of the project work carried out, including soil investigations.
The company is the master developer for the project and holds the concession to reclaim and develop three islands spanning 246ha which would include a deep sea port and Asia’s largest cruise terminal.
In 2018, the company’s port and cruise terminal projects were cancelled by the federal government. The decision was reversed by the transport ministry in November last year on an appeal by the company. The cruise terminal was supposed to be completed by September 2020.