KUALA LUMPUR — October 10, 2018: An online petition calling for the government to ensure that work on the underground portion of the Mass Rapid Transit 2 (MRT2) proceeds as planned has garnered over 25,000 signatories within 24 hours.
The petition, set-up yesterday by one Joyce Raj, following news that a postponement of the work will render the retrenchment of about 20,000 employees and workers. About 3,000 of them are with the MMC-Gamuda joint venture, the project delivery partner.
The decision to stop the work and have it internationally re-tendered is part of the government’s belt-tightening exercise which it hopes will save RM5.22 billion. The total cost of MRT2 is RM56.93 billion.
“The MRT network also serves areas previously unreachable via public transportation. Delaying it any further by termination and re-tendering would incur massive rework costs,” reads the petition.
This is the fourth rail-related project to be reviewed and altered under the cost-saving plans by the government since the the May 9 general elections.
Raj’s disapproving view over the government’s contentious decision was widely echoed by Malaysians on social media, many of whom embedded their posts with the hashtag #save20kjobs.
Some, particularly those who work on the project, even went as far as claiming that they regretted voting for Pakatan Harapan coalition in the elections.
“Five months ago, we voted for a better Malaysia. We never polled to become jobless. Never have I ever been so frustrated and disappointed,” wrote MMC-Gamuda’s quantity surveyor Fatin Syazwani at Facebook.
“During the election, we were hoping for a government that will provide stability and opportunities. Please don’t tell us to start a business. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” wrote MMC-Gamuda engineer Farid Khosim.
Following the outcry, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday said that the workers should be not be worried as they will be re-employed once the project gets a new contractor, adding that it could even be MMC-Gamuda.
“I feel like they’re eyeing a foreign company. Should that happens it will be a huge loss for us local companies and I don’t think all 20,000 of the workers will be re-hired,” said a soil engineer who requested anonymity.
While Lim appeared to be adamant in ending MMC-Gamuda’s stint, Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad appeared to be on a different page. Today Mahathir said the government would reconsider the termination of MMC-Gamuda.