We’re still studying ECRL project, clarifies Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today clarified that studies are still being done on whether to defer the China-backed multi-billion ringgit East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project or deal with it in some other way.

“At the moment, 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, then we can do it,” he said.

The prime minister was queried on news reports quoting him as saying during a recent visit to China that the government had decided to cancel the ECRL project for now.

“What I said was if we can we would drop the project, or we would defer it, or we would find some other way of doing it without costing so much money,” he told reporters after attending a town hall meeting with PPBM members.

Mahathir is the PPBM chairman.

ECRL, the RM81 billion-project spanning 688km linking Port Klang and Kota Bharu, was launched last year and slated for completion in 2024.

Another China-backed project, the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP) involving building a 662km Kimanis- Sandakan-Tawau gas pipeline, costing about RM4 billion, has been suspended since July.

When asked if he had sought a loan from China during the Aug 17-21 official visit to the country, Mahathir replied: “No, no … we have borrowed enough from China.”

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

“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 out for me. It has to be done properly.

“Our officers are working on the yen loan now.”