Dr M rubbishes claims over Johor ship project

PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today dismissed allegations over a ship-to-ship transfer hub in Johor, including claims that the project was not approved by the state government.

“I want to know if the Johor government would reject this project.

“So far, they have not rejected it. Not officially, anyway,” he said after witnessing the signing ceremony today between KA Petra and Hutchison Port Holdings Limited to develop the world’s largest ship-to-ship transfer hub in the Johor Bahru Port waters.

Also present were Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had shared a Facebook post on Sunday claiming the state government was not consulted about the project.

The post said while Putrajaya has the authority to approve the licence, it needs to get the green light from the state.

It also alleged that cronyism had taken place, with the company receiving special treatment from Putrajaya.

To this, Mahathir quipped: “All of the people in Malaysia are my cronies because I work for everyone, including the people of Johor.”

He also denied that Putrajaya had bulldozed the project through, saying discussions had been held for a long time including to address claims by neighbouring Singapore that the project was encroaching on its waters.

He said Putrajaya had clarified with the republic that the project is in Malaysian waters.

Mahathir added that the hub, which will cost between US$150 million and US$180 million, would bring profit to Malaysia.

On the claim that the state government was unaware of the project, Mahathir said the whole state knew about it.

He also denied that Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian was in the dark over the project, saying he had met the latter just last night and spoken to him about it.