PETALING JAYA (March 19): Malaysia may build an undersea tunnel that links Bagan Datuk in Perak to Sumatra island in Indonesia, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The undersea tunnel, which will go across the Strait of Malacca, will underpin Bagan Datuk’s transformation into a national logistics hub and increase bilateral trade between both Indonesia and Malaysia, he said in a report by The Sun.

"From Bagan Datuk we can get to Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh via the West Coast Expressway. From Ipoh to Bukit Kayu Hitam [in Kedah], to Bangkok, Kunming and Beijing [in China]. The starting point of it all is Bagan Datuk," said Zahid Hamidi, who is Bagan Datuk MP.

The landmark development has an estimated cost of 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 said.

He said the Malaysian and Indonesian governments have discussed looking into the possibility of embarking on the undersea tunnel project.

An environmental impact assessment would be done to determine the project’s feasibility, he added.

"As it would involve the cooperation of members of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), several procedures need to be followed.

"Full approval must be received from the Malaysian and Indonesian governments, as well as the governors of several provinces in Indonesia," he said.

Separately, Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said a special prison for people involved in terrorism would be built in Bagan Datuk.

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