Let’s do our part to help build Malaysia

Business Transformation Plan 2 (BTP2)

In one of my recent public engagements, I replied to a question on the future of MAS. I made a comment that the answer is stated in the Business Transformation Plan 2 (BTP2) document that was published back in January 2008 by the MAS team then. Scenarios that were projected and shown on page 26 and page 87 in this document clearly shows the estimated profit or loss that MAS will make in different circumstances.

People have been asking me about the BTP2 which was previously a public document that was available on the MAS website. I am pleased to share it here on my blog.

Business Transformation Plan (BTP 2)

Bringing Life Back to our River

At the Puah Pond information centre Masjid Jamek - Ablution StepsAt an era of our history, the muddy confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers served mainly as a means of transport for the tin-mining industry. Its waters were so pristine people would throng to the river at Masjid Jamek to perform ablution before prayers.
Over the years, with the steady erosion of the quality of the river, this activity is now only etched in the annals of history. As societies take shape, its rivers degenerate into waterways for the city’s garbage and sewage. The Klang River was forgotten.
Bringing life back to such a river is probably one of the most daunting task for any local authority.
Cities that have faced the challenge head-on and done so successfully, are now reaping the value of having beautiful waterfronts that cut across the city landscape.
Case in point – the Cheong-gye-Cheon River in Seoul. Prior to massive revival efforts in the late 80s, it is said that dead fish used to line its banks. The greed of industrialisation turned a river that people could swim in, into a heavily polluted sewage line.
On its embankments today are recreational paths, public parks and restaurants. Property value along the river skyrocketed.
Another good example is Singapore’s Kallang River. It took 10 years to clean the muddy, polluted garbage dump of a river that it was in the 1970s. Kallang today is a vibrant commercial district with hip establishments and its famed jogging and bicycling tracks.
In short, the revival efforts breathed new life into Seoul and Singapore.
It is possible to do the impossible here for our very own Klang River. The River of Life (RoL) project under the Greater KL NKEA is key to improving Kuala Lumpur’s liveability, transforming the river from its current Class 4 (toxic) to Class 2B, deemed suitable for recreational use.

But this mother-of-all-challenges begs a few key questions:

1. How do we pay for the cleaning?
Reversing damage from 50 years of irresponsible behaviours will cost the government a hefty bill. But having learnt from the experiences of South Korea and Singapore, we are confident of monetising land development projects around the banks.
The government’s 10.7 km stretch from Sentul to Brickfields will be revitalised into a thriving riverfront, enabling us to take in revenue from land sale whilst creating business opportunities, investments and jobs.
Commercial potential is expected to surpass the cost of the project.

2. How do we ensure the river stays clean?
To clean the river there are four priorities:
• As part of their regionalisation efforts Department of Sewerage Services (JPP) will build two regional Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in Bunus and Jinjang-Kepong in the RoL project areas.
Scattered independent STPs can be a major source of river pollution during heavy rains due to sewage overflow. Of 507 existing STPs, 280 will be shut down in the RoL catchment areas with the remaining diverted to these two plants.
• To reduce pollutants being channelled into the river, we have built four waste water treatment plants at wet markets within the RoL area apart from having installed 478 gross pollutant traps.
• Eight river water treatment plants have been completed to ensure 2B standard in our river
• Education is probably the most important element in maintaining the cleanliness of our river.
JPS workers found refrigerators, mattresses and carcasses in the Klang River. Maintaining clean waterways is not the responsibility of the government alone. All of us must be accountable. We cannot willy nilly litter or be careless with our garbage.

3. How do we celebrate and enjoy the river?
The world-class river beautification initiative by DBKL first kick-started in the Masjid Jamek vicinity, refreshing the neighbourhoods of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Leboh Pasar Besar, Dayabumi Complex and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
The bigger plan is to uplift and restore heritage sites to attract retailers and tourists. There will also be public parks and cycling tracks. Serious bikers and joggers will applaud the trek from Sentul to Midvalley, a 10.7km scenic workout.

Shops and homes – understandably – now face away from the waterways, literally putting their backs against Klang River. With a clean and charming riverfront, we will see people clamouring for the coveted spot to be on its banks and enjoy its beauty.

I was at the Sungai Sering water treatment plant to review progress. There I saw the river water being diverted into the plant for treatment before its release into the outlet as clean water. As I looked out to where the treated water met the natural bend of the river, I saw a young man draw a net full of tilapia.
When we start to see fishes thrive in their natural habitat, this is the sign we are on the right track. We are only at the cusp of seeing real change take place in our river, but as an angler myself, it’s a thrill to see fish scooped up right in the middle of a river in the city.
Perhaps the day will not be too far off when I can take a lunch break to enjoy the ebb and flow of nature, sit by the stoop of Masjid Jamek and cast a line into the Klang River.

We Must Not Forget The Villages

At the commissioning of the irrigation system of NKEA Bario Paddy Project

A case of a village named Bario Villages all over the world, including in Malaysia undergo similar development cycles. Urbanisation and access to better education has led to many young people leaving the villages for life in towns. EPU’s latest data shows that more than 70% of Malaysians live in urban and semi urban areas […]

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Open For Business

Gone are the days where we lived in the comforts of our bordered geographies, choosing to buy and sell only when it serves our purpose. In today’s highly globalised world, we have no choice but to be more interconnected and interdependent if we want growth and economic resilience. Malaysia has an exceptional history in trade […]

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Corruption – taking the beast by its horns

Inadvertently when I attend social events, someone will highlight a personal encounter where they paid a bribe to solve a problem. “There you go, Idris, corruption is rampant in this country and the reason why we will fail to progress,” they tell me. When you have been victimised, it is easy to discount the government’s […]

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Malaysia’s economy is doing quite well, thank you

Bloomberg columnist William Pesek is curious as to whether Malaysia’s economy will crumble because Oxford Economics ranked us the riskiest country in Asia in a survey. I want to assure Mr Pesek that we have our eyes on the ball. In fact, we are so determined to get the economy right, that in 2010, we […]

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Malaysia improving economic resilience; on track to meet 2020 income, investment & job targets

Recently, I was interviewed by the Prospect Group and we talked about the Economic Transformation Programme’s (ETP) goals for 2014, which includes Gross National Income (GNI), investment, and job creation, and ensuring Malaysia’s economy is resilient in the face of global uncertainty. You can view the video and read the transcript of the interview here: http://www.theprospectgroup.com/malaysia-improving-economic-resilience-track-meet-2020-income-investment-job-targets-82142/

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Tackling income inequality

Chandrasekaran Ramaiah fell into hardship when he suffered a stroke some years ago. Now partially recovered, he runs a food kiosk in Melaka after having secured help under the Azam Tani programme. When we met last month, he told me his income has doubled to RM100 per day. Chandra is one of 145,630 households that […]

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All it takes is ‘critical mass’ for the ETP to take off

Since the Prime Minister launched the ETP’s Annual Report 2013, I have been reading some news headlines decrying that the ETP is “losing steam”, “losing momentum” and “struggling”. Far from that, and I want to set the record straight. Where we are today in terms of investments within the ETP is by design and not […]

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Entering the Mid-Point

Idris Jala

Malaysia’s transformation journey evolves to the next phase Tonight the Prime Minister will report on the nation’s government and economic transformation results for 2013. I urge you to tune in as he will share insights on the nation’s progress and how that translates into opportunities for businesses, families and society. What are we transforming Malaysia […]

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