KTM Update: Is the Railwaymen’s Union becoming ‘political’?

Is the Railwaymen’s Union becoming political?

That is the question that was running through the minds of TRANSIT members when we learnt that the KTM Railwaymen’s Union had written a letter to Prime Minister Najib Razak to protest the reappointment of Dr. Aminuddin Adnan as president of KTMB for a second 2 year term.

Now, we already know that the RMU is not happy with Dr. Aminuddin. They have expressed their concern about the setting up of ETS Sdn. Bhd. as a subsidiary of KTMB, rather than a division like Komuter, Freight and Intercity. The group also expressed their concerns over a possible plan to hand KTMB HQ over to the private sector for development. There have been at least two protests by the RMU over issues and a new one is being planned.

But now, the RMU has taken their concerns into the political arena, warning Prime Minister Najib that they will encourage their membership to not vote for BN in any upcoming election if these issues are not resolved.

We’ll derail BN, railwaymen warn Najib (Free Malaysia Today)
28 July 2011

Patrick Lee

The letter, penned by the KTM employees’ union secretary, who is also an Umno man, pans the Najib administration’s tagline as well.

PETALING JAYA: In a letter to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, the Railwaymen Union of Malaya (RUM) warned him of protest votes against the Barisan Nasional in the next polls.

The letter penned by union secretary-general Jaafar Alias in his capacity as the Tampin Umno information chief also panned the Najib admnistration’s tagline.

“They (KTMB staff) said the slogan of ‘people first, performance now’ does not seem to be relevant… where the views of union members and KTMB employees have been ignored,” he said.

Jaafar also reminded Najib that there were nearly 2,000 KTMB employees in the Lembah Pantai Parliamentary constituency, where PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar reigned.

“There are many voters working for KTMB all over the country,” he added in the July 22 letter.

The letter complained about the inaction against Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) president Aminuddin Adnan, whom RUM blamed for massive financial losses.

According to the union, nearly RM200 million in cash reserves and a RM100 million overdraft belonging to the national train company have disappeared.

“Not one achievement can be seen through Aminuddin’s leadership and the RM200 million cash reserves and RM100 million overdraft have been spent in less than than two years,” read the letter.

Jaafar was referring to Aminuddin’s tenure as KTMB president, which the latter had assumed since Aug 1, 2009.

He also said that the company had nothing new to show for, adding that KTMB’s performance suffered during Aminuddin’s reign.

This detail is one amongst many reasons why the union, fed up with Aminuddin, would hold a picket against him tomorrow at the KTMB’s headquarters at 6pm.

The union men were also sore that the train boss’ contract would be extended for another two years; to July 31, 2013.

‘Whose interests?’

Bringing this to bear, RUM questioned the interests behind the decision.

“KTMB’s board of directors, including senior officials from the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry said they are not happy with Aminuddin’s performance,” Jaafar wrote further.

He was also convinced that there were “orders from the top” making sure that Aminuddin stayed where he was.

(KTMB is overseen by the Finance Ministry, which Najib leads as minister.)

Jaafar then alleged that the KTMB president was connected to the RM1.8 billion contract involving China-made Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains.

Malaysia was due to receive the first of these EMUs this September, with another six on the way in December and the rest by June 2012.

FMT previously reported that the Transport Ministry awarded the EMU contract to a Chinese company, known as CSR Zhuzhuo Electric Locomotive Co Ltd last May.

The deal was alleged to be RM500 million more expensive than intended, prompting a report to be lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

This did not stop the government from going ahead with the deal. The MACC refused to divulge any information over the case.

Jaafar also wrote that RUM had met with Najib on July 14 last year in protest over Aminuddin’s position.

“We explained our problems in length… and you (Najib) seemed to understand, while asking us to be patient and give Aminuddin a chance because of his newness (in KTMB),” he said.

But the meeting was to no avail.

RUM said that the event created a bigger divide between Aminuddin and the union, causing the former to view the latter as “enemies”.

Jaafar also alleged that senior KTMB officials friendly to the union were also treated with animosity by the company president.

Because of this, Jaafar alleged that there was a “culture of fear” within KTMB’s higher levels.

TRANSIT Says:

We simply don’t know what to say when we read articles like this. Except that we can understand the frustration that Railwaymen would have when KTMB appears to be running into the ground.

Is the present situation Dr. Aminuddin’s fault though? And will removing him as president and replacing him with someone else actually improve the situation and resolve the issues that KTMB is facing?

We highly doubt it. Dr. Aminuddin is just one man and KTMB’s issues have been prevalent long before his appointment as President.

TRANSIT remembers conversations with a former KTMB President about some of the issues that KTMB was about to face … back in 2007, before things really got bad.

The point is that KTMB needs a plan, with long term solutions to extract it from the situation that it is currently stuck in.

We can look at the current issues (alleged corruption in tendering and problems with labour relations) or the past issues (bad management, poor maintenance and a lack of investment) or even earlier issues (corporatization and sale of KTMB’s assets) … but the point is that whatever happens we need a vision for KTMB for the future.

Playing politics and picketing is not going to solve KTMB’s problems. Neither is inattention and “forgiveness” from the public. KTMB has problems and it needs a shaking-up so these problems are resolved.

Dr. Aminuddin may not have been “liked” by the Railwaymen’s Union and by the KTMB Board of Directors, but he did articulate a vision for KTMB. Whether that vision is the correct one, or not, should be the subject of rigorous discussion and debate … whether in conference rooms, the Dewan Rakyat, or your local kopitiam or mamak stall.

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3 thoughts on “KTM Update: Is the Railwaymen’s Union becoming ‘political’?”

  1. Last night (28th July 2011) 11:30pm, NTV7 programme Siasatan Mandarin 2011 (got English/Malay subtitles) had mentioned a series of problems, issues and delay about the 14 train coaches donated by Japan JR West and the KTM commuter services. Even former transport minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat also had some disagreement about these issues with KTMB. The worst part is NTV7 could not get in contact with our new transport minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha although they had tried to do so for quite a few times as if he is trying to avoid media for all these dilemma and embarrassments You can watch it again on http://www.tonton.com.my . Anyone who watched this programme last night will understand what is really going on. I don’t want to comment much about it.

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