BERNAMA: Plenty To Learn From Japan’s Bullet Train System, Says Pioneer Look East Policy Student

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 (Bernama) — A Malaysian who was among the first batch of students sent to Japan under the Look East Policy in 1982 is very excited about Japan making a strong bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) project, saying there are so many good values that Malaysians can learn if the Shinkansen system is adopted.

Dato Zulkifli Abdul Malek former Look East Policy student

Datuk Zulkifli Abd Malek, arguably the most successful Look East Policy student as he now sits on the board of 10 Japanese multinational companies in Malaysia, said as the world’s inventor of the bullet train system, the Shinkansen goes well beyond transportation but embeds the Japanese values of punctuality, safety, operational efficiency, diligence and positive work culture.

“If the Shinkansen is implemented in Malaysia, I think it goes beyond transporation. It will be a lot of new things. I particularly like the zero-defect thing about the Japanese. This is something the Japanese will look at us saying we can make it better.

“Zero-defect is their way of life. They always like to improve things and they always put themselves in the shoes of the end user, this is something that I love, and the way they think,” he told Bernama.

In a recent interview with Bernama, Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa said Japan would implement a holistic package if its bid for Southeast Asia’s largest ever infrastructure project was successful, including financial and human resource training plans to enable Malaysians and Singaporeans to efficiently run the HSR.

DR MAKIO MIYAGAWA – Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia

Zulkifli said with the Shinkansen in our midst, plenty of good habits would be nurtured among Malaysians and he spoke of the many benefits of discipline and of being punctual.

This culture has also been adopted by the thousands of young Malaysians who have benefited from the Look East Policy and should trickle down to benefit the country as a whole.

“This will develop good habits among Malaysians, they will be punctual. They know that if they want to take a ride on the Shinkansen, then they must be punctual, so it teaches us a lesson. This is something that we must learn and with the Japanese heading the HSR project, and we are learning from them and then we implement and emulate whatever they teach… in this way we can change,” he added.

“When you talk about discipline, you just imagine today if you take our train here, you follow the time schedule, you waited 10 minutes the train didn’t arrive, but it won’t happen in the Japanese railway system. They say they want to depart at 10.03 means at 10.03 the train will depart. That’s how punctual they are.”

And with it, too, Malaysians would learn how to queue properly when getting into trains instead of shoving or overtaking as is normally seen at local LRT stations.

“People might be thinking why should I queue. Just like when we travel by air, we willl be there two hours before the departure because we know if we don’t, we will be left behind. The Shinkansen will definitely teach our society to be more punctual and make sure they follow rules that have been set,” said Zulkifli.

He said there would be tremendous cultural and economic spin-offs from the Shinkansen system, citing Muar in Johor – one of the stop-over stations along the HSR route — as an example.

“Just imagine, suddenly Muar becomes a place that can be expanded and I just love to hear about getting universities like Tun Hussein Onn University in Batu Pahat and the Technology University in Melaka being involved in this project.

Ambassador Miyagawa said last week that the two universities and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai, Johor, would serve as training centres to develop human resource among Malaysians to run the Shinkansen system.

“It means that you develop not only education but a lot of other spill-overs and that would be very interesting to see,” he said. Zulkifli expects the spill-over to Singapore businesses to be equally exciting.

“The moment the Shinkansen is on, Singaporeans doing business in Malaysia don’t have to have their offices in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, they can start thinking of having them in Batu Pahat or Muar where the rent is cheaper. That will create job opportunities for the people of Muar and Batu Pahat who don’t have to leave their kampung to go elsewhere to work”.

Zulkifli also said if the Shinkansen system won the HSR bid, it would be most appropriate for Malaysians who graduated from Japanese universities under the Look East Policy to be part of the team to implement the project.

The HSR, estimated to cost around RM50 billion, is up for grabs among international bidders by the middle of this year and the successful tender due to be known by the year-end.

When operational by 2026, the HSR will reduce travelling time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes from the present four to five hours.


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