The end of the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project is not the end of the road for inter-ASEAN rail in Malaysia yet as recently revealed by Ho Chin Soon and Ishmael Ho, Chairman and CEO respectively of Ho Chin Soon Research.
“A Kunming – Jakarta railway network that bypasses Singapore might become a reality,” said the senior Ho, renowned as Malaysia’s top mapmaker.
In a recent broadcast, Ho proposed a bridge cum undersea tunnel across the Straits of Malacca from Westport and Northport in Port Klang to Indonesia. “Malaysia and Indonesia should seriously start talks on this 70km crossing now that the KL-Singapore HSR is scrapped,” he said.
The reason is two-fold – firstly, the Kunming – Vientiane ra il link is expected to be completed by end 2021, while the Vientiane – Bangkok railway network has been contracted out to China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) and construction is slated to start in the near future.
Around the same time, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) that starts from Kota Bahru, Kelantan, and ends at Westport/Northport in Port Klang, is expected to be completed in 2026.
“Thus, Port Klang is ideal to cross over to Indonesia because it’s the terminus for the ECRL as well as being in the proximity of nine million population from Greater Klang Valley. In fact, a proposed railway line from Bangkok to Westport is already under discussion between Thai and Malaysian authorities. The next logical step is a bridge cum undersea tunnel across the Straits of Malacca to connect Bangkok and Jakarta via rail from Port Klang,” he added.
On Mar 29, Malaysia pa id compensation of S$102.8 mil (RM320 mil) for the aborted KL-Singapore HSR project.
Shenzhen to build duty-free hub
The Luohu District of Shenzhen has announced plans to build a high-end duty-free shopping hub and a Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area duty-free shopping area. Government approval is expected to be given soon as this is in line with China’s 14th Five-Year Plan which proposed extending duty-free areas to Shenzhen, among other cities.
Duty free shopping has seen a huge boom in Hainan which reported an average of US$27 mil a day in duty free sales in January 2021, three times the level a year ago. With global lockdowns still in place, the province has become a prime destination for domestic luxury shoppers who a re understandably going through a revenge shopping spree.
Shenzhen’s GDP per capita doubled over the last 10 years, topping the chart of all Chinese cities with $29,498 last year. It is the birthplace of Huawei and Tencent, and recently ranked among the top 10 most competitive financial centers in the world.
Shenzhen also hosts its own fashion week, houses 2,500 fashion brands, and boasts the highest local market share of high-end shopping malls.
A potential loser might be Hong Kong which may see shoppers turning to Shenzhen, which is just a few minutes away by bullet train. HK faces an uncertain future due to political tensions with Beijing