Pause on Malaysia's East Coast Rail Link plan deflates local dreams

East coast states lament loss of economic opportunities after project is put on hold

Above: A billboard still advertises the rail project in Kota Sultan Ahmad Shah, in Kuantan, even though it has been suspended indefinitely. Left: A China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) site in Bentong, Pahang. Below: A CCCC site in Temerl
A China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) site in Bentong, Pahang. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: A billboard still advertises the rail project in Kota Sultan Ahmad Shah, in Kuantan, even though it has been suspended indefinitely. Left: A China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) site in Bentong, Pahang. Below: A CCCC site in Temerl
A billboard still advertises the rail project in Kota Sultan Ahmad Shah, in Kuantan, even though it has been suspended indefinitely. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: A billboard still advertises the rail project in Kota Sultan Ahmad Shah, in Kuantan, even though it has been suspended indefinitely. Left: A China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) site in Bentong, Pahang. Below: A CCCC site in Temerl
A CCCC site in Temerloh, Pahang. The ECRL site offices in Bentong, Temerloh and Kuantan that The Straits Times visited late last month were practically deserted. The government had issued a stop-work order in July, two months after winning the election.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Temerloh town sits at the confluence of two big rivers and is known in Malaysia for its delicious curry dish of ikan patin (silver catfish).

The sleepy Pahang town was, until recently, also in line for an economic boost, as one of the 24 proposed stops on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) that would have connected the country's less-developed east coast states to the richer west coast.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2018, with the headline 'Pause on rail plan deflates local dreams'. Subscribe