KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - China is hoping a song will remind Malaysia of warmer relations in the past, days after a US$20 billion (S$27 billion) project that it backed was seemingly scrapped by the South-east Asian nation.
The Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur released the song on Monday (Jan 28) on its Facebook page to commemorate 45 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Titled Bahu Kiri or left shoulder in Malay and sung in Mandarin, the lyrics speak of a friendship against all odds while harking to the South China Sea as "heartrending" and reminding the two nations that they share one shoreline.
"My right shoulder protects you from the wind and the rain, my left shoulder is for you to hang on to," the song went.
The timing of its release coincided with Malaysia apparently terminating the East Coast Rail Link project with China Communications Construction Co., or CCCC, as the main contractor. CCCC took steps last Thursday (Jan 24) to rationalise its workforce following the Malaysian Finance Ministry's instruction last year to suspend related contracts.
But Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday evening that the project had in fact not been cancelled, with the two sides "still negotiating". He had earlier on Tuesday struck a reconciliatory tone, saying the government's reason for cancelling the rail was simply a lack of funds.
"We are as you know burdened with very heavy debt," he said. "So we seek the understanding of the parties concerned that it is not just because we want to frustrate or to throw out a contract. It is because we are really tight in terms of finance."
Malaysia's Finance Ministry was calculating the penalty payable for cancelling the contract, Dr Mahathir said.
That may coincide with the Chinese embassy releasing the Malay version of the song, which it said would be coming soon.