An Open Letter To Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad & Lim Guan Eng – We All Voted For A New, Better Malaysia

On Sunday evening alone, after the news broke, I received over 30 calls and messages from my colleagues and comrades and over 30 more on Monday. All of the conversations differed from the others but the underlying messages were the same. One of my foremen, big, strong and heavily tattooed, put on a brave face and asked: “Boss, what will happen to the boys? Will they be okay? What do I tell them?” I didn’t have a good answer. All I could do was to put on a brave front and tell him that everything will be okay (but will it really?). A single mother of three, with two of her children in college, called up and asked: “What will happen to us now?” I didn’t know what to say to her. One of my TBM operators, whom I have a very strong connection with after having carried him out of the dark depths of hell (also known as a TBM cutterhead) nearly 5 years ago when he got stuck and came close to drowning, put his daughter through medical school because of the opportunities presented by this project. Now he is wondering if he will have a job tomorrow and if he will have to leave his family to go overseas in search for work when he is now over 50 years old. What do the three people above share in common? They all voted for you. They all voted for a new, better Malaysia; a Malaysia Baru. And today they went home, blaming themselves for voting for you because perhaps tomorrow, they will be out of work and will not be able to put food on the table for their families. This is most certainly not what they voted for. We don’t need a third national car to build and grow world class engineers; I believe we have long missed the boat to be a world class car manufacturer. However, we have on hand another channel to do just that: the MRT lines in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian team working on KVMRT Line 1 and Line 2 have achieved groundbreaking stuff and received international recognition and accolades from the international tunnelling community for our good work here. The Variable Density TBM that we pioneered and use to tunnel through Kuala Lumpur’s extremely challenging geology was accorded the Technical Innovation of the Year Award. One of my dearest friends, Derek Eng, recently won the coveted Young Tunneller of the Year Award from the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association beating out competition from all over the world. Just a month ago, we successfully trialled the world’s first self-driving TBM which tunnelled under the 14-lane Jalan Sungai Besi without any incidents. We hope that this too will win a number of awards in the near future. The engineers who worked on the AI algorithm for the self-driving TBM had an average age of 26 which was no mean feat! All these engineering achievements and milestones were made possible because of the opportunities presented to the young and vibrant Malaysian team working on this highly complex and challenging project. It has given us room to grow, to build, to innovate, to dream. And soon, we will be robbed of all of this. In my simple mind, I cannot comprehend the logic of how retendering of the remaining works and awarding them to a foreign contractor can bring greater value to the nation or for the taxpayers’ money once the abortive costs, idling costs, compensation, etc are taken into account and considering other factors like unemployment and capital outflow. I guess I’m not smart enough to run the country or to see the logic behind this decision; I can only contribute to building it. So now I choose appeal not to your logic but to

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sai Rama

    October 11, 2018 at 10:05

    Justin Chin Jing Ho, you should have the wisdom to know the well-being of the country come first, not you.
    That is why you call your country your Motherland!

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