The price we pay to axe East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)


KUALA LUMPUR: Loss of jobs, harm to diplomatic ties with China, damage to the economy plus a RM20bil compensation are awaiting Malaysia if the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is cancelled.

The billion ringgit 688km long track linking Selangor, Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan is already 20% completed, says MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on the trail of potential damage if the project set for completion in 2024 is axed now.

The Ayer Hitam Member of Parliament who issued an open letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Cabinet Ministers on the matter, said he earnestly hoped the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing the project.

The ECRL project whose construction contract was awarded to China Communications, Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and financed by China is a hot topic in the past few days, and its fate is expected to be made known officia­lly this week.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will be “impoverished” if the government proceeds with the ECRL project.

While not confirming that the project has been scrapped, Dr Mahathir said paying compensation is cheaper than bearing the cost of the project.

Below is Dr Wee’s letter in full:

An open letter to YAB Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers

The cancellation of the ECRL project and the bickering between two Cabinet ministers over the issue has become the talk of the town. I foresee this issue to be a hot topic in the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (Jan 30).

Whether the cancellation of ECRL was discussed in previous Cabinet meetings or not, I earnestly hope the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing this project.

Take a moment to consider factors such as the friendship between the people of both countries, jobs and economy, diplomatic ties and the reputation of Malaysia.

On the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, I can safely say that putting a stop to the ECRL project will harm the diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.

If we put ourselves in China’s shoes, we will surely respond negatively as well if our overseas investment is treated as such.

A nightmare looms should China take any retaliatory action, such as reduce or even halt the import of commodities (palm oil in particular) from us.

If that happens, Felda, Sime Darby and other big corporations will be the first to feel the heat.

The livelihood of some 650,000 smallholders and their families will be directly affected.

From the economic perspective, the ECRL project is likely to boost the GDP growth of three east coast states by 1.5%.

It will also spur the development of the east coast, enhance connectivity between the east and west coast, and close the economic divide between the two coasts.

Through bridging the rural-urban divide, the overall development of Malaysia will be more balanced and comprehensive.

The rail link is 20% completed, with several tens of billions paid to the contractor.

On top of that, Malaysia will be penalised for cancelling the RM30bil loan from the EXIM Bank of China.

We will have to repay the loan and compensation within a short period of time.

From my experience in administering engineering projects, any breach of contract will result in a hefty penalty. The compensation for cancelling ECRL could reach RM20bil.

Financial losses aside, scrapping the ECRL will also bring a negative impact to Malaysia’s reputation in the international arena and erode Malaysia’s trustworthiness.

Judging from my past experience dealing with China and its officials, as well as the friendly gestures displayed by China so far, I can conclude that China is willing to achieve a win-win solution instead of situation where both sides lose out.

The Malaysian government can consider restructuring the project timeline or reducing the project scale, which are alternatives that work in Malaysia’s favour while maintaining the amicable ties between Malaysia and China.

The government should also keep the small and medium enterprises in mind.

Business owners in 150 related industries, including tens of thousands of contractors who have taken a loan to purchase equipment, will suffer greatly should ECRL be cancelled.

China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, with bilateral trade figures reaching US$100bil. Business linkages and people-to-people exchanges have also flourished over the years.

Products such as palm oil, bird’s nest, Musang King, white coffee, etc, are exported to China, while people from both countries visit each other for vacations and academic exchanges, benefitting Malaysians of all races.

All these have contributed to the income of various communities and brought in foreign exchange earnings for the country.

It takes years to build a bilateral relationship, and only seconds to destroy it.

The Malaysian government should appreciate our friendship with China and try its best to achieve mutual benefits and common prosperity with China.

Prioritise the economy and the livelihood of the people, and put an end to the political game to discredit your opponents.

For the sake of the people in the east coast as well as the whole of Malaysia, the government should not cancel the ECRL project.- The Star

Related posts:

Rail link a huge economic boost, big news for small towns in Malaysia

 

The rail economics of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)

 

ECRL and pipeline projects cancelled !

Malaysia scraps MRT3 project, reviews HSR, ECRL mega projects to reduce borrowings

Don’t brush aside the goodwill, Mahathir !

 

The world’s oldest PM, Dr. Mahathir must now walk the talk

Rocky times ahead for China FDI in Malaysia

Keep China’s faith in us; Relationship with China is crucial, says expert

Advertisements

‘Equanimity’ billion dollar yacht is coming home


Yacht EQUANIMITY

Equanimity arrives at Port Klang

The Equanimity is expected to arrive at Port Klang soon after spending a day in Batam, Indonesia, yesterday.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thanked Indonesia for the good news, though he said if fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho could prove that he had purchased the billion-ringgit yacht with his own money, he could get it back.

“If they have proof that they purchased the yacht using their own money and not stolen money, they have the right to get the yacht back,” Dr Mahathir said in a video posted on Facebook.

He said the close relationship between both countries was the reason this problem could be solved.

“We believe the yacht belongs to Malaysia because it is believed to have been bought with Malaysian money stolen by certain parties.

“If there is anyone who claims the yacht is theirs, they can show proof that they own it. We want to know how they managed to amass such a huge amount of money that they were able to purchase such an expensive yacht,” he said.

He added that investigations by the US Department of Justice reveal­ed that the yacht was purchased using funds stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

A source said the vessel received port clearance from the Batam Marine Department at 2.30pm yesterday, indicating that its next port of call was Port Klang.

The source said at least four Malaysian policemen would accompany the ship and its crew here.

The yacht arrived in Batam island yesterday morning. By 6pm, it had entered Malaysian waters.

It was supposed to head for the Batu Ampar port, but was diverted and anchored near the Pulau Nong lighthouse at the entrance to Tering Bay at around 9.30am yesterday.

The yacht had sailed from the Tan­jung Benoa port in Bali last Thurs­day.

The Equanimity was seized in Bali in February at the request of US authorities as part of a multibillion-­dollar corruption investigation launched by the Department of Justice over 1MDB.

However, a Jakarta court ruling in April declared that the yacht was wrongfully impounded and it was released to its owners after they obtained a court motion to declare that the seizure was illegal.

But the vessel was not allowed to leave the Tanjung Benoa port.

Last month, Indonesian police seized the yacht again following a formal request for legal assistance from the United States.

Reuters reported that the decision by the Indonesian government to hand over the yacht to Malaysia was reached following a personal request made by Dr Mahathir, who visited Indonesia in June.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said his ministry intended to reco­ver as much money as it could from the Equanimity.

Speaking to reporters at Par­liament lobby yesterday, he said the immediate plan was for the Attor­ney General to ensure that all the paperwork was in order and proper controls were imposed.

“If possible, we need to make sure that there is a proper inventory of the assets inside, and we hope that the public can also view it.

“This may not be the entire ship, just a portion of it, because there are also a lot of valuable items inside and there must be some sort of control.

“At the end of the day, we want to get back as much money as we can from all these ill-gotten gains.

“These stolen assets should be sold at the highest price so the money can be returned to the people,” Lim said.

Asked if Malaysia would get to keep the yacht, Lim said he would leave it to Attorney General Tommy Thomas to explain, though he said the fact that the yacht was being sent here “speaks for itself”.

By Eddie Chua and Rashvinjeet S.Bedi The Star

Dr M’s ‘regime’ not interested in due process, Jho Low’s lawyers claim after yacht seized

The Malaysian government’s seizure of the yacht Equanimity is illegal and proof that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration has no interest in a fair and just process, tycoon Taek Jho Low’s lawyers said today.

The lawyers representing the fugitive businessman reiterated that the confiscation of the luxury vessel — which they said is owned by Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd — broke an Indonesian law and court decision, besides breaching recent United States court orders.

“The yacht’s owner, Equanimity Cayman Limited, had already filed a claim on this asset, which Mahathir ignores. Further proceedings have been issued today in response to this illegal act,” the tycoon’s lawyers said in a statement.

They accused Dr Mahathir of bringing the yacht illegally from Indonesia “into a rigged Malaysian system manipulated by a man who only cares about his absolute political rule”.

“Since his election, Mahathir has tried reinventing his public image following the appalling abuses of the rule of law he previously presided over, including the Anwar case and the 1988 judicial crisis.

“The reality is that he has simply continued on as he did during his previous regime and has shown that his only objectives are political: from freezing bank accounts of rival political parties, to public trial-by-media, where guilt is proclaimed before any evidence is presented,” the lawyers added.

Low’s lawyers have pointed out that the United States’ Department of Justice (DoJ) has argued that it must have possession of Equanimity to ensure that the asset retains its value pending a court hearing that can determine the final ownership and the rights of all parties involved.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today he will auction off Equanimity to recover as much money as possible from the luxury boat worth US$250 million (RM1.02 billion).

He said selling off the yacht belonging to the fugitive financier, who is allegedly a central figure in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal, would be the best option as the cost to maintain its docking would be high. – Malay mail

Related posts:

Najib is guilty of incompetence, he says: board to be blamed for 1MDB debacle, not me, I don’t know !

New MACC chief breaks down in recounting what he went through (full story)

Malaysia’s Corruption Perception Index worsen seven rungs

Malaysia slides in global Corruption perception index

 

%d bloggers like this: