I had two impressions when I first arrived at the grandiose complex of the Miri Port on Monday morning, firstly, a feeling of disuse, dilapidation and decay although the new port started operations only in August 1998 because of the lack of proper maintenance of a complex which is greatly underutilised; and secondly, the eerie silence and emptiness of the huge port complex, with hardly any people around and even less port activities.
The premier “white elephant” status of the Miri Port was illustrated
by at least four incidents during my visit:
I will respond to Wong’s Sarawak State Assembly speech tomorrow but for today, I want to thank him for confirming, though unintentionally and inadvertently, that the new Miri Port is the biggest “white elephant” in the country.
Wong claimed that the new Miri Port cost RM250 million but he could not explain why before November 1997, the Miri Port Authority itself claimed on its website that the new port cost RM287 million.
Wong said that the port handled a total of 161,678 metric tonnes of cargo last year when the new Miri Port was designed and built for a cargo capacity of 3.5 million metric tonnes per annum - which comes to 4.6 per cent utilisation of its capacity.
It is quite remarkable that as Minister for Infrastructure Development and Communications, Wong could be proud of spending RM250 million (using his own figure) on a new port which is only being used 4.6 per cent of its capacity.
If this is not a “white elephant”, then I do not know what is a “white elephant”.
A contest for the “biggest white elephant” country should be organised so that the people in the country would have an opportunity to judge which “misdevelopment” project in the country is the “biggest white elephant” of them all - although I am convinced that the new Miri Port can find no challenger as far as this appellation is concerned.