7th Leadership Talk with the Minister of Transport

Women in Rail Malaysia together with Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE) Malaysia hosted the Women in Rail Malaysia 7th Leadership Talk on 1st November 2018, with special guest speaker, the newly appointed Minister of Transport, YB Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

For most of those who attended, it was their first time being at the Malaysian Houses of Parliament, and also the first time to listen to YB Anthony since he took office. All were eager to know the future of the rail industry. “Is there hope? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?”

YB Anthony kicked off by saying that when he heard about the existence of Women in Rail Malaysia, he was eager to meet its members. His curiosity was piqued and he was interested to support a not-for-profit entity such as Women in Rail Malaysia and engage directly with representatives from the rail space.

The minister talked about recent developments in the rail space and the initiatives he had taken to transform the Malaysian transport industry. One of them was during the first cabinet meeting, where Minister requested to have SPAD under the Ministry of Transport. That marked the first time in the history of Malaysia that the Ministry of Transport would have centralized and systemic jurisdiction over all land public transport matters. The minister covered issues such as railway asset management, land utilization along nearly two thousand kilometres of railway tracks, transit oriented development providing affordable housing as well as monetization opportunities and commercial viability for the sector.
He also touched on the need for balancing investment in urban rail projects with the need for developing public transport utilisation in the secondary towns throughout Malaysia. To promote ridership, the ministry of transport was rolling out a monthly pass for the urban poor in the 2019 budget.

To further encourage lifestyle changes, the minister would focus on harmonizing multimodal urban travel by reorganizing bus routes, further improving first and last mile connectivity. Non-fare revenue would also start to be a priority for the ministry and partnerships with smart solution providers would be an area of focus, as would PPP development and expansion.

The minister said to the audience “you have chosen the right path for your career.” He acknowledged the existence of many talents with great skills and expertise in the Malaysian rail space. He emphasised that the Malaysian economy is strong enough to absorb these talents, still providing many opportunities but he did recognise that personal sacrifices would have to be made in these changing times for Malaysia.

The minister ended his session by reiterating his appreciation for both female and male technical professionals, recognising their individual strengths. He said that both in his ministry and within his political party, opportunities were provided to women for their career advancement.