BATU GAJAH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China remains optimistic about the revival of the shelved East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and is hoping for a win-win situation that will benefit both sides, the country's envoy said.
China's Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian said on Thursday (Jan 3) that both governments had been talking to each other about the 688km, RM81 billion (S$26.6 billion) connection from Port Klang in Selangor to Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan, which the Malaysian government suspended last July, citing prohibitive costs.
Both sides agreed that the negotiations should be between the contractor and the project owner, Mr Bai said.
"We are now waiting for the reports of these negotiations. I hope they will come up with a win-win solution in the spirit of mutual respect, goodwill, mutual benefits and equal footing," he said during a visit to the CRRC Kuala Lumpur Maintenance Sdn Bhd Rolling Stock Centre with Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
He was responding to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's comments earlier this week that the ECRL might be revived but on a smaller scale.
Mr Loke said the Malaysian government had yet to make a final decision on the project.
Malaysia's previous government had approved the project that was to have been built in two phases, but it was put on hold after Pakatan Harapan's victory in the 14th General Election on May 9.
The construction was to be handled by China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) while the financing was to be provided by Export-Import Bank of China.
On Thursday, Mr Loke said he has invited China to continue investing in Malaysia to develop the latter's railway transportation industry.
He said he would like to see Malaysian-made equipment used in South-east Asia as each country develops its own railway system.
"Railway is one of the areas where we can see strong collaboration between Malaysia and China," he said, adding that major cities in the region were demanding rolling cars for their own systems.
He said it was also his hope for the Malaysian CRRC plant to increase its capacity as China continued to boost its investment.
This, he said, would mean increasing production and including other services such as maintenance and overhaul so that whole sets could be produced in Malaysia.
The current CRRC plant, which started operations about three years ago with a total investment of RM400 million, had the capacity to produce 200 train cars a year.
About 85 per cent of its workforce are Malaysians.