Malaysia on Sunday confirmed the construction of a giant port in Pulau Carey, which would clash with plans for two big ports coming up in nearby Malacca.
In January, Malaysia’s Port Klang Authority (PKA) said it wanted to build a giant port on an island next to the country’s largest port.
The RM200 billion (S$64 billion) project with its 13,000ha, is about 25 times the size of Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
On Sunday, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Malaysia will upgrade Port Klang to play the role as an Asean hub, hoping to ship more cargo originating from Indonesia and Thailand via Port Klang.
Port Klang – which is currently the world’s 11th busiest port – will also have a bigger role to play once the Carey Island port-industrial city project covering an area of 100sq km, takes off, the Minister said.
To bill the port as an important hub for Asean, it will have to see increased cargo from Sumatra, Indonesia and Thailand.
Bigger ports will also be built in Carey Island to connect to Pulau Indah, to turn Port Klang into three major ports, with Westport, Northport and the Carey Island port.
Talks of building another port has been in the air in Malaysia for a long time, but it never materialised due to several issues.
Under the new plans, the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) will see its expansion from Pulau Indah to Carey Island.
Apart from being a port-cum-industrial zone, Carey Island, the Minister told the media on Sunday, was a new city in the making.
Last year, Port Klang handled 13 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) compared to the 11.89 million TEUs last year.
Analysts see little chance that a new port would draw clients away from Singapore, pointing out that the current ports in Johor, which are closer to Singapore, have not managed to make too big of a dent in Singapore’s port business.
Malaysia’s plans come at a time when the global container-shipment industry has reached a plateau.
Critics also questioned the fact that having several Malaysian ports situated close to one another along the Malacca Strait could lead aggressive competition on the local scene.