Webinar on “Contrasting Approaches to Malaysia’s Transport Policy”

In this webinar, YB  Anthony Loke analyses key transport initiatives put forward during Pakatan Harapan’s tenure and compares and contrasts them with the emerging transport policy framework advanced by Perikatan Nasional.


Thursday, 1 July 2021 – The ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted a webinar on “Contrasting Approaches to Malaysia’s Transport Policy”, delivered by Yang Berhormat (YB) Anthony Loke. YB Loke is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Seremban and was the Minister of Transport from 2018 to 2020. Prior to being elected as MP for Seremban in 2013, he served as the MP for Rasah (2008 to 2013). Over the last fifteen years, YB Loke has held various positions in the Democratic Action Party (DAP) including the Negeri Sembilan State Chairman, National Organising Secretary, National Political Education Director and Central Executive Committee member. YB Loke is one of the three Pakatan Harapan MPs representing the opposition in the bipartisan independent committee for the Emergency.

YB Anthony Loke
YB Anthony Loke shared that the PH administration was unable to deliver a thorough transformation of the country’s transportation landscape due to the Sheraton Move in February 2020. Dr Francis Hutchinson moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

YB Loke began his presentation with an overview of the Ministry of Transport (MOT), including its functions and agencies under its purview. He commented that MOT aims to build a transportation system that is safe, efficient and sustainable. He shared that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration was unsuccessful to deliver a thorough transformation of the country’s transportation landscape due to the Sheraton Move in February 2020 which abruptly ended its tenure after a mere 22 months in power. However, YB Loke argued that the PH administration had nonetheless recorded some successes in implementing several crucial policy changes and reforms.

Firstly, the administration consolidated and strengthened the scope of MOT. During the Barisan Nasional (BN) era, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) reported to the Prime Minister’s Office which led to coordination issues between SPAD and MOT. In addition, SPAD was prone to political interference. During the PH administration, SPAD was renamed and reassigned to be under MOT’s purview which enabled greater synergy between the two agencies. Secondly, the PH administration successfully shaved off 21.5 billion Ringgit off the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project through bilateral renegotiations with China and a new southern alignment, designed to maximise the project’s spillover effects. Thirdly, the PH administration established clear standards and operating frameworks for e-hailing operators which enabled the ride sharing industry to be legalised while improving service delivery and safety. Lastly, the PH government also implemented cabotage exemptions and eliminated Approval Permits for transhipment goods in a bid to boost Malaysia’s business environment and port competitiveness.

YB Loke argued that the present Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has reversed some of these reforms. He cited the revocations of cabotage exemptions under the present MOT minister, and the realignment of ECRL to the previous northern alignment first proposed under BN. YB Loke concluded that PH remains committed to transparency, data sharing and open tender in the transportation sector. In addition, should the PH coalition return to power it will push for digitalisation while increasing public transport usage.

During the question-and-answer session, participants raised questions on the ECRL alignment, potential conflicts between national transport masterplan and the Malaysia automobile plan, and the Klang Valley public transport network, among others. The webinar attracted 60 participants from Singapore and abroad.

About 60 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)