Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 14 Feb 2019

It is not funny anymore. GE14 raised hopes of a new progressive approach to developing the country. Yet the Prime Minister’s revival of his former failed projects is blatantly not relevant to the country’s most pressing needs. These can no longer be taken lightly as the quaint attempts by an aging politician to salvage his damaged pride after these projects were axed by the Badawi and Najib administrations.

First, the “saviour” of the nation wanted to revive the crooked bridge to Singapore that was stopped by the Badawi government; then he decided to revive the failed Proton project by proposing a Third National Car, arguing that Proton is no longer our national car; now he even wants to restart the F1 fiasco!

Is this what Malaysia most needs right now? Are these projects to be revived just to spite the former PMs Badawi and Najib? Will there be any NEAC members with “principled balls” who will dare to confront the PM on the viability of these patently failed and hare-brained projects?

We can afford F1 but not new Chinese schools?

The Sepang circuit was the brainchild of prime minister Mahathir Mohamad who built the state-of-the-art facility that was “not really anywhere nor near anywhere”. One of Mahathir’s sons, Mokhzani was chairman of the Sepang circuit for 13 years. Malaysia decided to scrap F1 after 2017 due to rising costs and poor sales – the Sepang circuit was drawing just a third of its capacity, and TV ratings were poor and we weren’t seeing a return on the $67.6 million investment each year.

Malaysia is not alone in saying enough to Bernie Ecclestone’s travelling circus which has turned out to be a white elephant that does not justify the costs. Turkey and South Korea have already gone the way of Malaysia, as did India. Singapore – one of two regional hosts – has also considered pulling out because of the exorbitant cost of doing so.

Soon after the GE14, the Education Minister Maszlee Malik announced that the construction of eight Chinese primary schools (SJKCs) that had already been approved by the previous administration would be halted because of supposed financial constraints.

Thus, while mother tongue schools and other urgent public expenditure are being sacrificed at the altar of the RM1 trillion debt mountain, the Finance Minister must explain to the nation how spending on F1 can be seen to be beneficial to the financial state or the economic fundamentals of the nation.

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