PH will review, renegotiate ECRL and HSR, says Mahathir


KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today declared that Pakatan Harapan (PH) would review all mega projects in Malaysia, should it wrest control of Putrajaya in the next general election.

This included the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project which is expected to cost over RM60 billion.

Speaking at a forum on Chinese investments here today, the PH chairman said many Chinese projects in the country were “wasteful”.

“We might even need to cancel some. We might have to pay some compensation, but that’s better than continuing and incurring debts,” he said, adding that a high-speed rail was “unnecessary”.

Mahathir said the country might even have to “tighten its belt” further to pay for the debts incurred.

The ECRL will create a 250km land bridge which could undercut the Melaka Straits trade route by bypassing Singapore, while the 350km HSR will cut travel time between KL and Singapore to just 90 minutes.

At the forum, Mahathir also reiterated his concerns over foreign ownership of land in Malaysia, saying that while foreign direct investments (FDI) were welcome, the sale of land to foreigners did not constitute FDIs.

Pointing to the US$100 billion Forest City project in Iskandar, Johor, Mahathir said locals couldn’t afford the homes there, meaning that foreigners would have to be brought in to snap up the properties.

“So we have to have a loose immigration policy. We didn’t have that before, but now because of certain circumstances, we welcome foreign ownership of valuable land.”

Mahathir said the ongoing developments in Melaka and Langkawi, among others, could accommodate around three million foreigners.

“It can create clashes, like when we put the Indonesian flag upside down,” he joked.

“If we make China angry, even if all of us join the armed forces, we’re not going to be a match for China.”

Mahathir said there was nothing wrong with being friendly with China, but it didn’t mean Malaysia should be sold to foreigners.

“Not because they are Chinese, but if we want to bring three million Bangladesh nationals into the country, I suspect they will cast their votes in the next election.

“Even the Arabs, who have given us donations, I would still be uncomfortable with.”

Mahathir said he had no problems with Chinese investments, but if the investments were too big, China might feel the desire to protect them.

“We don’t want any country to defend its investments in our country and, in the process, we lose control of our country.

“Our investments should be balanced with investments from other countries,” he said.