The government is looking into the possibility of constructing an undersea tunnel to connect the island of Sumatra, Indonesia to peninsular Malaysia in the future, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.
The proposed tunnel would connect the district of Bagan Datuk in Perak to Sumatra – the sixth largest island in the world – via an undersea route that would cut through the Straits of Malacca, he said.
He added the cost for the mega project, the first of its kind connecting the peninsular and Indonesia, was projected to be at around US$20 billion (RM78.14 billion).
“Engagement is being done with parties outside of the administration of the federal and state governments,” he said.
“Therefore, it will be a private initiative and we leave it to the private sector to get the necessary approvals (from Malaysia and Indonesia),” he told a press conference after attending the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) Bagan Datuk at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang.
Ahmad Zahid said the government had held discussions with its Indonesian counterpart to look into the possibility of constructing the undersea tunnel.
He added the environmental impact assessment would also be conducted to gauge the practicability of such project.
“As it would involve the cooperation of members of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), several procedures need to be followed,” he said.
“Full approval must be received from the Malaysian and Indonesia governments, as well as the governors of several provinces in Indonesia,” he added.
Earlier at the TN50 event, Ahmad Zahid said the undersea tunnel, once completed, would boost the economy of both countries through trade as well as transforming Bagan Datuk into a national logistics hub.
He added the undersea tunnel would allow for more connectivity to other regions in Malaysia once the West Coast Expressway (WCE) is completed.
“From Bagan Datuk we can get to Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh via the WCE. From Ipoh to Bukit Kayu Hitam (in Kedah), to Bangkok, Kunming and Beijing (in China).
“The starting point of it all is Bagan Datuk,” he said.