Studies being done on ECRL viability: Mahathir

PETALING JAYA • Studies are still being done on whether Malaysia would defer the China-financed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project or deal with it in some other way, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"They are studying whether to defer or to give it to another (party). "But we have to also negotiate with them (China), if they agree, we can do it," he said last Friday. "Or we would find some other way of doing it without costing so much."

Tun Dr Mahathir had said, while in China last week, that the Malaysian government had decided to defer the ECRL project.

The project envisions a 688km rail line linking Port Klang and passing through cities in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia before ending in Kelantan.

Kuala Lumpur has said the ECRL would cost RM81 billion (S$27 billion), a sum it cannot afford as it tries to reduce a RM1 trillion debt.

Another China-backed project, the RM4 billion Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline to build a 662km pipeline from Kimanis to Sandakan and Tawau, has been halted since July.

Asked last Friday whether he had sought a loan from China during his Aug 17-21 official visit, Dr Mahathir replied: "No, no... we have borrowed enough from China."

He was also asked about reports alleging that Malaysia might not get a yen loan that he had sought during his visit to Japan in June.

Dr Mahathir replied: "Who said that we're not getting the yen loan? I mean you just don't go to the prime minister and say 'please give me a yen loan' and then he writes a cheque for me.

"It has to be done properly. Now our officers are working on the yen loan."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 26, 2018, with the headline Studies being done on ECRL viability: Mahathir. Subscribe