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KTM Update: DMU purchase cancelled! (Update #1)

Updated with more articles & comments!

Public transport in Malaysia took a big (though symbolic) step forward with the cancellation of the plan to purchase a number of used Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU) trainsets from FEVE in Spain.

The controversial purchase was raised in Parliament and criticized by many quarters (including TRANSIT). It was alleged that by several MPs in Parliament that KTM had paid 3 times as much as another train operator (RM30 million as compared to RM10 million) to purchase the same number of DMUs.

One interesting thing that we note from the latest articles is that the purchase was for 8 DMUs, valued at RM64 million, while we recall that the original purchase was for 4 DMUs valued at RM30 million.

Minister of Transport Ong Tee Keat even goes on a defensive attack in this article:

Tee Keat slams critics over cancellation of DMU purchase (The Sun)

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat today slammed those who questioned his motive to cancel the purchase of eight diesel multiple units (DMU) from Spain for KTM Berhad’s (KTMB) commuter service network.

“They should get their facts rights with regards to this issue and not simply blame me,” said Ong. “They have blown this issue out of proportion and made it look as if they were correct.

He then proceeded to blame another ministry for the issues related to the purchase of the trains

“First of all, KTMB comes under the MOF (Ministry of Finance)…not under the MOT (Ministry of Transport),”

“When they (KTMB) made known their intention to purchase (the DMUs), it went to MOF and the MOF approved it.


If you think about it carefully, one really has to wonder what is going on with the Malaysian government. Do you know of any other place in the world where people in the same government attack each other publicly?

Whatever the politics that are involved, the numbers do not lie.  The allegation that KTM paid 3 times the amount as other operators for the same number of trains was scandalous back when the amount was only RM30 million (as compared to RM10 million for the other operators).

Now we are being told that the Ministry of Finance cancelled a deal for RM64 million!

How are these people managing our money if they cannot even manage to keep the facts straight?

TRANSIT will do some research and try to get some answers on the different numbers that we are seeing here.

“Political” Spin

Another interesting thing to note is the different content of the two articles, from the MCA-linked Star and the other from the UMNO-linked NST, which have a very different tone.

The Star article suggests that the supplier FEVE could not deliver the trains in time, while the NST article says that the government was questioning the purchase.

The Star
Ong said the Finance Ministry had approved the allocation to purchase the used DMUs based on KTMB’s request.

“But when the supplier could not deliver the promised units, we decided to cancel the contract.

Azmi yesterday said the ministry made the decision to cancel the purchase last month.

He said the decision would not cost the government any money, but the PAC would continue its interviews on the matter.

“We want to know what is the procedure in buying the trains. What is the process?”

According to Ong, the money intended for the purchase of the DMU trainsets would be combined with the NKRA budget to upgrade the Electric-Multiple Unit fleet instead.


It is quite shocking that the head of the Public Accounts Committee, Dato’ Azmi Khalid, can say that they are not aware of the procedure in buying trains. These are the parliamentarians who are responsible for approving purchases in the millions of Ringgit and they do not know what the proper procedure is??????

This is one more reason why there needs to be a specific Parliamentary Select Committee for Transport (initially for Public Transport) which can devote itself to understanding how public transport should work.

Different cost estimates, allegations of overpayment and corruption, sneak attacks by MPs for political gain, and excessive spin by politically-linked newspapers….

Whoever said public transport was a boring topic?

2 replies on “KTM Update: DMU purchase cancelled! (Update #1)”

whatever the reason is, it’s good news that the proposed purchase is finally cancelled. what justifies the purchase of *old* used DMUs at such exorbitant price anyway?

Hi Summers

The ‘justification’ was that KTM Komuter needed more trains as soon as possible, and the DMUs could eventually be used on service on the east coast rail corridor.

That was never a sufficient justification but it was a ‘political’ decision by the Minister of Transport. We wait to see if the Public Accounts Committee will investigate the purchase as they have implied.

A warning was raised in 2005 and 2006 that KTM Komuter would be facing a maintenance crisis if they continued to defer maintenance – but the previous Minister of Transport and senior people in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning Unit did not heed that message.

Perhaps they have learned now. Perhaps not.


Moaz for TRANSIT

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