KLIA a White Elephant

Speech (5)
Royal Address 1999
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Dewan Rakyat, Thursday): Yesterday, the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling  Liong Sik dismissed talk that the KL International Airport (KLIA) in  Sepang was  not a safe place due to its alleged close proximity to pig farms  affected by the viral encephalitis outbreak.

He said: "None of them is located less than 10 km from the airport borders and Culex  mosquitoes cannot fly that far.  The KLIA is safe, including the Sepang F1 Circuit, " he told reporters  after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The threat to KLIA is not the Culex mosquito but rats, which had plagued the KLIA since its opening ten months ago and it is not uncommon for flights to be delayed or aborted shortly after they had left the KLIA because rats were found aboard aircrafts - as happened to a Sydney-bound flight recently, when rats were found in the first-class cabin.

I believe I speak for all MPs, including those from the Barisan Nasional, as well as the flying public when I say that the RM9 billion KLIA is very inconvenient because of the distance and time wasted.

The KLIA has undoubtedly become very burdensome and even a white elephant. I am shocked that the MP for Tambun, Husni Hanadzlah could say during the debate on the White Paper on "Status of the Malaysian Economy" that the KLIA was being built for 300 years!

In fact, it is so inconvenient to use the KLIA that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has stopped using the KLIA for his international flights even, making use of Subang International Airport instead.  For his previous international trips, one to Bangladesh and the recent one to Mecca for the Haj, Mahathir had used the Subang International Airport for both departures and arrivals and not the KLIA!

It would appear that the KLIA is for ordinary people to suffer the inconvenience of its use, while the Prime Minister is using the Subang International Airport.

Last year, I had called for the increase of domestic flights, particularly the formerly very popular and lucrative Penang-KL sector, using the Subang International Airport instead of using the KLIA in Sepang. The flights on the Penang-KL-Penang sector using the Subang International Airport are always full while the passenger load for the KLIA sector is a very dismal one.

For a time there was positive response from the authorities concerned, which announced that there would be increase of domestic flights through Subang.  There has however been a recent change of heart, and I understand that all domestic flights through Subang would be diverted to KLIA by the third quarter of the year, as the KLIA is in danger of becoming a first-league white elephant.

I call on the authorities to reconsider the decision to end all domestic flights through Subang, reserving it solely for the use and convenience of the Prime Minister, and instead to increase the number of domestic flights through Subang.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong