Ahad, 29 Jun 2014
HOT!! Perlukah Kedah Miliki Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Baru?! @MukhrizMahathir #KedahSerataRata
Mari kita baca apa pemikiran dan perancangan MB Kedah untuk kita..
NST: Having spent a year in the menteri besar’s seat, what do you think is needed to take Kedah to a higher level?
Mukhriz: Whether we like or not, Kedah has to shift towards becoming an industrial state. For decades, the state has depended on its agricultural sector. But we do not intend to abandon that. In fact, we want to go downstream and high-tech with our agricultural sector.
As proven by the Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP), when Kedah ventures into industrial parks, we can do very well. So, we know that industrialisation is something Kedah has to do. I am not talking about a labour-intensive endeavour, but it has to be a high-tech, capital-intensive, high-income industry, in line with the Federal Government’s aspiration.
That is why we have been talking about establishing the Rubber City project, the Kedah Science and Technology Park, the Medical Science City and expanding the KHTP. To spur the state to greater heights, we need a paradigm shift.
NST: How vital is the Kulim International Airport towards helping Kedah realise this “paradigm shift”?
Mukhriz: One of the key factors for achieving that is in the area of logistics. To ship products, we rely on Penang International Airport (PIA) as it is the nearest air hub for the northern region.
We are surprised to learn that within two years, PIA will be saturated while its cargo handling has been declining at a rate of 10.3 per cent annually over the last four years. That is a bad sign. How do we promote industry in the region when the airline hub’s capacity to handle airfreight is decreasing?
In fact, northern region manufacturers, including those in Penang, have to transport their goods by road to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) before they can airfreight their products.
This suggests that cost will increase, and it doesn’t bode well for our efforts to promote Kedah as an investment hub. So, we figured, why not build an international airport in Kedah, which can not only handle passengers, but also give due consideration towards air cargo to meet the demands of existing industries?
It will also serve as a point to draw investment to the northern region.
We also learned that there are plans to build a new expressway parallel to the North-South Expressway, but further inland, which would avoid congestion on the Penang mainland portion of the highway.
That was when we identified the 6,000ha oil palm plantation site in Sidam. This will make the whole area very strategic, as the proposed airport will be linked by highway to the KHTP, a mere 20-minute drive.
The proposed airport will not only handle goods produced in Kulim, but also cater to the needs of industries in Penang, northern Perak and even southern Thailand. After giving it some thought, everything began falling into place and that was when we decided to come up with the proposal.
NST: Since announcing the proposed airport, what has the response been like?
Mukhriz: The immediate and biggest supporters were the industrial players in KHTP, as well as future investors. I was asked by potential investors how they would ship out their goods since the air cargo handling rate in PIA was declining. As such, the news generated excitement among the industry players there.
I strongly believe that the proposed international airport could draw interest from potential investors while injecting confidence among existing multinational companies to reinvest and expand their operations at KHTP. Mind you, some of them had even mulled shifting their operations to Vietnam. The announcement enabled them to convince their principals in the United States, Europe and Japan to remain and expand their operations here.
NST: One of the first reactions came from Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who demanded that the Federal Government upgrade the PIA before approving a new international airport in Kedah. What is your response to his concern?
Mukhriz: For over 40 years, Penang enjoyed vast benefits from the attention given by the Federal Government. It is obvious that without the former’s help, Penang could not have developed to the level it is at now. It developed so rapidly that it even drove Kedahans to migrate to Penang for job opportunities.
So, when the Federal Government starts looking at Kedah, Penang should not feel that it is being sidelined. They should understand that as neighbours, they will also benefit from any development taking place in Kedah.
I feel that Lim’s initial reaction is misplaced and unjustified. His demand that the Federal Government expand PIA first before building a new international airport in Kedah is bizarre, considering that Penang has benefited from the government’s largesse for more than four decades. So, I think it is unfair. We do not plan development to spite our neighbours. That is the last thing we would ever wish to do.
NST: Addressing Lim’s concerns, how do you think Penang stands to benefit from Kedah’s new international airport?
Mukhriz: I see that Penang is moving the right way. It is de-emphasising investments that require a lot of labour, and perhaps, also moving away from capital-intensive investments. They are now focused on attracting investments in the services sector, which is the fastest growing sector that offers high-added value, definitely a high-income industry.
I think Penang’s move to launch the RM3.3 billion Information Technology (IT) Outsourcing and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), or IT-BPO, near its airport is a brilliant move. I foresee Penang heading towards that direction.
In the near future, big factories on the island may consider shifting to the mainland due to higher production costs. This would allow Penang to continue expanding its services sector while supporting the manufacturing sector on the mainland.
As such, the whole idea about the Kulim International Airport works in tandem with the plan. Penang need not feel threatened. In fact, they should see it as complementary to their own growth. The fact that PIA is taking more passenger aircraft also fits into the idea.
NST: What is your take on Lim’s idea of expanding the PIA’s runway through land reclamation?
Mukhriz: Lim said it was financially more feasible to expand the runway at PIA through land reclamation, instead of building a new international airport in Kedah. That is not entirely true because we cannot tell for sure the success rate after spending billions of ringgit to expand or build an airport runway on reclaimed land. Building homes on reclaimed land is entirely different from building a runway as we cannot afford to have minor defects on the runway’s surface. We should learn from Kansai Airport in Osaka, Japan. Despite being a country famed for its technological prowess, Japan had experienced technical issues in getting the soil to settle properly during the airport’s construction.
NST: Why does Kedah really need this new international airport?
Mukhriz: Although Kedah’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is higher than the national average, we are, in fact, starting from a low base. The per capita growth is very low. At that pace, I do not see how we are ever going to ever catch up with the national growth rate.
When we talk about national growth rate, Kedah will, of course, factor in somewhere as one of the 14 states. So, if Kedah does not experience rapid growth, we can actually drag the whole nation behind in terms of capital income.
That is why I absolutely believe that if we aspire to see Malaysia double its capital income by 2020 and beyond, we need to give due attention to the state instead of focusing on developed states like Penang, Selangor and Johor. Whatever growth in those states will be incremental because they are already high-base.
An international airport will be a significant catalyst for our economic growth as it will not only create high-income jobs and directly benefit the state’s economy, but most importantly, improve the state’s per capita income significantly. This is something generations can benefit from. We see how KLIA has contributed towards the nation’s growth with the number of businesses and investors coming in. As soon as foreigners land at KLIA, it gives them confidence and belief on the country’s prospects.
NST: How do you justify concerns over Kedah’s ability to optimise the proposed international airport?
Mukhriz: From what I understand, the airline sector is, on a global scale, growing healthily going by the number of aircraft being purchased or orders being placed. It seems to me that in 10 to 15 years, the business will continue to grow. That is why I suggest building a new international airport.
For example, we can have an integrated airport which caters for premium carriers, low-cost carriers as well as air-cargo carriers, based on experiences from KLIA, the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal to klia2. We are looking at a modern, functional airport with local features, certainly not an extravagant one as our priority is functionality.
sumber NST McTheory:
Cukup-cukuplah bagi Penang.. Kedah pulak lepas ni..