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China will not take kindly to ECRL’s cancellation, Malaysia opposition leader warns

By Kenneth Tee Malay Mail 29 January 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — The cancellation of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will harm Malaysia’s diplomatic ties with China and could lead to retaliatory action, MCA president Wee Ka Siong warned today.

Urging Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet to reconsider its decision, Wee said China has already expressed its willingness to achieve a win-win solution with Malaysia on the 688km project.

“If we put ourselves in China’s shoes, we will surely respond negatively as well if our overseas investment is treated as such.

“The Malaysian government can consider restructuring the project timeline or reducing the project scale, which are alternatives that work in Malaysia’s favour while maintaining the amicable ties between Malaysia and China,” he said in an open letter to Dr Mahathir and the Cabinet.

The Ayer Hitam MP also warned that China may attempt to seek retaliatory action by imposing certain or full restrictions on Malaysian exports such as palm oil.

“It takes years to build a bilateral relationship, and only seconds to destroy it.

“The Malaysian government should appreciate our friendship with China and try its best to achieve mutual benefits and common prosperity with China,” he said.

Wee’s letter follows Dr Mahathir’s remark earlier today that continuing with the ECRL would leave the country indebted for an entire generation and impoverish the country.

He said the federal government should prioritise the economy and the livelihoods of Malaysians while putting an end to the political game that appears aimed at discrediting their opponents.

“The cancellation of the ECRL project and the bickering between two Cabinet ministers over the issue have become the talk of the town,” he said.

Last week, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali issued conflicting statements on the project.

Azmin announced last Thursday that the Cabinet had agreed to terminate the ECRL — which has been suspended since last August — prompting Lim to express surprise over the disclosure.

Wee claimed further that owners of 150 related industries, including “tens of thousands of contractors” who had taken a loan to purchase equipment, would suffer greatly should the ECRL be cancelled as the rail link was 20 per cent completed.

He said the ECRL was also likely to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of three east coast states by 1.5 per cent while spurring state developments, enhancing connectivity between the east and west coast while closing the economic divide between the two.

“The compensation for cancelling the ECRL could reach RM20bil. Financial losses aside, scrapping the ECRL will also bring a negative impact to Malaysia’s reputation in the international arena and erode Malaysia’s trustworthiness.

“For the sake of the people in the east coast as well as the whole Malaysia, the government should not cancel the ECRL project,” he said.

From: MALAY MAIL (Malaysia) Tuesday January 29, 2019

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