Bullet Train Chiengmai – Bangkok. No to invest. Yes to loans.

When the tsunami hit Japan in April 2011, I was still in Japan as a tourist with my wife and two other close friends. We heard from the our hotel receptionist in Osaka that the Shinkansen (bullet train) service has been stopped. We were supposed to travel the next day to Tokyo and then to fly back to Malaysia 2 days later. We were evaluating if it is better to just fly back from Osaka instead. The very next day, our receptionist told us that the Shinkansen was back in service. During the travel however, we could feel that the track was slightly less smoother than before the tsunami. Maybe just a feeling I guess.  The Shinkansen arrived on time in Osaka and on time in Tokyo. All of us were amazed. During our trips between cities in Japan, it was via bullet trains at all times and it was on time all the time! For our HSR KL – SG, of course I would support either China or Japan to win the bid. What about Shinkansen for Thailand?

Here’s one latest news in StraitsTimes SG about Japan’s participation in Thailand for the Bangkok-Chiengmai route via the bullet train. The Thai government asked for Japan’s investment into the project. This is what the Thai minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on behalf of the government. The deal that he is looking for is to “minimise debt for the government.” Therefore, “We have asked (Japan) to come up with solutions to decrease capital investments, in order to minimise debt on our part. One of the solutions would naturally be a joint investment (between Thailand and Japan).” The Japanese side however insisted that it will offer loans with low interest rates for the project instead. From a study by the Japanese side, the entire Bangkok-Chiang Mai route will cost 420 billion baht (RM52.48 Billion), BangkokPost reported. Full article in StraitsTimes here. 

In terms of Japanese’s participation in the High Speed Rail forKL – SG, this is a recent article.  Always invest when we are able to ascertain some forms of returns from our investments. Sometimes, this is not just a personal decision but also the fact that we were not convinced enough by the sales person. Either not enough facts to answer all my queries or perhaps not the right time. Perhaps it’s better for the PM of Thailand to get another professional team to look through the project again, identify even more better reasons why an investment is better than just providing a loan, regardless of how low the interest rate may be. Yes, better connectivity is always good, even if this is in Thailand. I will surely benefit one day when I fly to Bangkok and ‘zoom’ (300km per hour) to Chiengmai.  To a more connected ASEAN cities.

written on 10 Feb 2018

Next suggested article: HSR Bangkok – KL – Singapore! Potentially, anyway

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