There is a English idiom “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
Perhaps the best illustration of this idiom is the ERL to KLIA. When KLIA was official launched in 1998., an express rail link was built to link KL sentral and KLIA.
There is of course nothing wrong to have this link. I have travelled on this train once, and it costs about RM 35, which is cheaper than hailing an airport taxi. It is also fast and takes about 28 minutes to reach Sentral from KLIA.
The only thing wrong is that even for those not using the service , they are paying RM5 towards this , everytime they take an international flight.
This is reported in Malaysianinsider today, which quoted the Trasport minister as saying that Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad had to compensate for the poor sale of the ERL.
Worse, even those travellers who do not use the KLIA but travel on Air asia using the LCCT are paying the same amount.
There are several things wrong in this:
1. Why wasn’t a proper feasibility study conducted before this ERL was built ? Granted that this project involved a huge amount of capital, and few companies might want to be involved, but surely if a feasibilty studies showed that it is not profitable, this project can be shelved till a time when the traffic volume in KLIA is sufficient to sustain this. We must not wear a hat that is too big for our head.
If it is a case of other-people-have-rail- link and so we must have it, then why stop at a rail link? Why not start a helicopter ferry service between KL and KLIA?
2. Why must those budget travellers be milked to pay for this? Since this budget travellers go to LCCT which is not serviced by ERL, why must they pay RM5 for this? FOr those early bird budget travellers, RM 5 can get them to Bali etc.
This is a clear case of robbing Peter to pay Francis Paul.
3. Why are air travellers who do not use this ERL service not told about having to pay RM5 even if they do not use it? Where is the trasparency?
4. Why are the concession agreement so lopsided that compensation needs to be paid for poor sale?
Malaysians are like the proverbial Peter in so many occasions…. Tolls, electricity, water, … etc while the Francises Pauls are laughing all the way to the bank.