Dr M: Study on national railway to ensure benefits


Tokyo • The Malaysian government’s efforts to get JR Kyushu Railway Co’s cooperation to look into the problems of the national railway is to ensure that the services are fully beneficial to the nation and the people, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister said Malaysia has requested the Japanese company’s cooperation to conduct a study so that the roles and benefits of the railway services could be enhanced, including in terms of cargo delivery.

“Currently, our train services are almost completed…(including) double tracking and electrification. However, only 30% are being used and there are 70% of unused potential railways,” he told Malaysian reporters on the final day of his three-day working visit to Japan.

Dr Mahathir said many large containers were transported by road, which was inefficient and would disrupt the traffic due to their large size.

“We have to use railways for transportation of containers and big items. Our railway is electrified, but cannot carry containers. In Japan, there is a system for trains to move the trade.”

The study by JR Kyushu was one of the topics discussed during Dr Mahathir’s meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Tuesday. Abe was reported as saying that a group of experts from the Japanese railway company would be in Malaysia at the end of this month to look into related objectives.

Dr Mahathir said Japan has a lot of experience in railway services, which was previously owned by the government and had always suffered losses.

“So, they privatised the service to several companies. They gained profit, especially JR Kyushu. That’s why we go to Kyushu to see the railway administration to study how they can be successful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia will also seek Japan’s assistance on investment in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry in the quest to take its technologies to a more advanced level.

Dr Mahathir said in another Bernama report that he had a meeting with Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank Group Corp, which has investing expertise in the field.

“Originally, we were interested in appointing him as one of the directors of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, but he said he would be ineffective as an advisor as he is more perceptive in the field of investment.

“He showed us the way to invest through his organisation. He used to invest only from here (Japan), but now he has invested in Arab countries.

“He concentrates only on AI and is ready to help us address our financial problems,” Dr Mahathir told Malaysian journalists in Tokyo yesterday.

Dr Mahathir described his three-day visit to Japan since Monday as very successful and cited a meeting with Japanese businessmen where he was asked many questions pertaining to Malaysia’s development.

“They were very friendly and each one of them expressed a desire to help Malaysia’s recovery efforts. I believe it was not just a sweet talk. They also showed understanding towards the country’s (fiscal) woes,” he said. — Bernama