Massive port city project in Malaysia no threat to Singapore, other ports: Port Klang chairman

KUALA LUMPUR: A massive RM200 billion (US$45 billion) port industrial city planned for Malaysia’s Carey Island is a safeguard for the future and “not a threat” to Singapore or any other ports along the Strait of Malacca, said the chairman of Port Klang Authority, the body behind the project.

Kong Cho Ha, the chairman of the authority that oversees Port Klang – Malaysia’s largest port and the world’s 12th busiest – said the new port will “create the capacity for the next generation”.

“Singapore is also building a big terminal at Tuas which is 65 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units); whereas for Carey Island, we are only talking about developing the port in phases – maybe up to a maximum of 30 million TEUs only,” he told Channel NewsAsia.

“So to me, this is more complementary rather than competition.”

A proposal for the port industrial city has been submitted to the Malaysian government and, if approved, it could be operational by 2025. It would span more than 100 sq km on the island next to Port Klang, complete with free trade zones, residential and commercial developments as well as other supporting infrastructure.

“By 2025, the other terminals on Port Klang – such as West Port and North Port – would have already reached their capacity,” said Kong.

“Also, the infrastructure – roads and utilities for e.g. – at these terminals cannot support continual growth; and cannot support the increasing vehicle volume that is moving in and out of the port.”

The Carey Island port would service the Strait of Malacca, described as one of the world’s “most important strategic chokepoints” by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In 2013, the EIA estimated that 15.2 million barrels of oil a day passed through the strait.

Plans are underway for two other ports along this waterway as well in Malacca, less than two hours away from Carey Island – the RM12.5 billion Kuala Linggi International Port as well as a deep sea port and cruise terminal at the Melaka Gateway.

Kong, who is also the chairman of the Malacca Port Authority, sees no conflict with the development of these projects, as the ports will serve different functions. Investors from China are largely funding these Malacca projects – and their involvement could extend to Carey Island too.

According to Malaysian daily The Star, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai invited his counterpart in China to jointly develop Carey Island into a deep-sea port that could also service Chinese ships plying the strait.

Kong, however, would not confirm China’s involvement, only saying there were many interested parties. He said investments will be welcome from “any country, be it Japan, United Arab Emirates, the US”, or even Singapore.

Catch the rest of the interview with Kong Cho Ha on Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017. 

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