Like many people, TRANSIT is gearing up for the closing of the KTM railway stations at Tg. Pagar and Bukit Timah in Singapore.
As you probably know by now, the last trains will leave Tg. Pagar on June 30, 2011. From 1 July 2011 all KTM Train services will stop at Woodlands Checkpoint.
But Karim Mahsood of KL argues that June 30 is not a day for celebration.
I REFER to the front-page report, “Tickets snapped up for KTMB’s final Tanjung Pagar service” (NST, June 14).
It will be appropriate to mark, as a momentous and solemn event, the last train journey out of Tanjung Pagar station on June 30.
But it would be wrong for anyone to use that day as an occasion to rejoice or party on the train. This is because June 30 is not a joyous day but a heartbreaking episode for KTMB (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd) as an integral part of Singapore history. The British colonial authorities had, in 1918, sold to the Federated Malay States the properties and estates owned by Singapore Railway.
KTMB would not have had any cause to close down Tanjung Pagar or relocate its terminus to another place in Singapore had it not been for a series of unfortunate steps which began in 1990 with a lopsided agreement between Malaysia and Singapore called the POA (Points of Agreement), and culminating in the deal last year requiring KTMB to relocate from Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands on June 30.
The move by KTMB to Woodlands will signal the beginning of the transfer to Singapore not only of the historic station building in Tanjung Pagar but also 175.7ha of KTMB land, estimated to be worth billions, in exchange for joint development of six small parcels of land in Marina South and Ophir-Rocher in the southern part of Singapore.
The Woodlands checkpoint is not a railway station but a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station belonging to Singapore.
As such it is possible that KTMB will be compelled to retreat further north to Johor Baru — sooner rather than later.
When that happens, a glorious chapter in the history of KTMB operations to and from Singapore would be forced into early closure.
That is why June 30 will be a sad day, and certainly not an occasion for any celebration.
KARIM MAHSOOD Kuala Lumpur
Happy or sad? Or mixed feelings? Either way this is the end of an era for KTM as well as for Malaysia-Singapore relations. The end of KTM service in Singapore is almost like the final act* of the long-standing divorce of Malaysia and Singapore. How should we mark its passing?
*Aside from the political side (the expulsion of Singapore from the federation), there are other things like 1962 separation of The University of Malaya into the University of Malaya and the University of Singapore (a sign of things to come?) and the 1972 separation of Malaysia-Singapore Airlines, that have marked turning points in Malaysia-Singapore independence.