No way Malaysia will scrap ECRL-BRI rail link

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) and the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) have jointly launched a market sensing exercise to gauge market interest and seek views via a Request for Information (RFI) for the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project on 15th March 2016.
Project Background
The East Coast Economic Region (ECER), is an area measuring more than 66,000 square kilometres or 51% of the total area of Peninsular Malaysia with a total population of 4.43 million (2014). ECER covers the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, as well as the district of Mersing in Johor as shown in Figure 1 … for more, go to 

No way Malaysia will scrap ECRL-BRI rail link

KUALA LUMPUR (May 2018): As the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Dr M)-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) forms the Malaysian federal government in stages after winning the May 9 14th General Election (GE14), certain quarters have raised concerns about the fate of the mega projects and investments poured into the country by China.

I Love Malaysia-China Silk Road maintains that there is absolutely no risk in Malaysia cancelling any of the mega projects, especially the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), that had been launched.

The ECRL was awarded to China Communications Construction Company without open tender last year by the toppled Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government that had ruled Malaysia for six decades.

The only thing that will happen is a review and renegotiation of the projects between the investors or concessionaires and the new federal government.

The ECRL, set to be China’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt Road Initiative (BRI)’s Southeast Asia rail link hub to China, Europe, Scandinavian and Nordic countries, is too huge a trading potential for Malaysia to reject.

BRI to date has 69 cities and countries participating to construct the rail link and the ECRL would serve not only Malaysia but also Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. (Read this for context:

Malaysia’s so-called No.1 English Daily, The Star, which is owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a Chinese political party which is a member of the Umno-led BN coalition, continues to report concerns and risks that the PH government will cancel all mega projects by China.

This is despite Dr M and other PH leaders continuous reiteration of assurances that Malaysia will continue to be business-friendly to the rest of the world, including China.

The following are two latest reports posted by The Star Online for our readers and followers to digest and form their own conclusion:

"Robert Kuok’s return adds optimism

Sunday, 20 May 2018
by ho wah foon
The right man: Kuok, meeting with Xi in 2016, is seen as the most appropriate person to help mend the currently uneasy relations between Malaysia and China.
THE unexpected return of billionaire Robert Kuok to the Malaysian scene has added optimism among investors and the public in the new government of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It was an exciting news for the local Chinese community when Dr Mahathir named the global trader and businessman as one of the five members in the new Council of Eminent Persons, two days after he led Pakatan Harapan to topple the Barisan Nasional government of former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Since moving his business headquarters to Hong Kong from Kuala Lumpur in 1975, the richest man of Malaysia has pared down his local investments due to his disdain for the New Economic Policy, implemented after the May 13 riots.

The 94-year-old tycoon, estimated to have a net worth of about US$14.5bil (RM58bil) as of March, is also one of Asia’s wealthiest.

No one would expect this business icon, who advocates meritocracy and integrity, to reappear in the local scene – particularly after he was bashed by senior Umno politicians for launching his controversial book Robert Kuok: A Memoir ahead of the 14th General Election.

Kuok’s memoir, which shows he could not tolerate corruption, criticises some government policies as wrong.

For this, he suffered lowly name-calling by some. However, many, including Dr Mahathir, came to his defence.

“I have confidence he will be of great help to Malaysia. Although he could not return to meet with other council members often (due to health reasons), he may give his views and opinions via teleconferencing,” says Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap, president of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Malaysia (ACCCIM).

With palpable excitement in his voice, Ter adds, “He is wise and knowledgeable. We had a lunch meeting with him last year, and he came across strongly as a patriot who has a lot of views and opinions to offer.

“He also showed his great love for the country.”

Tan Sri Micheal Yeoh, CEO of Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), believes that the global entrepreneur can provide valuable business input on the various economic plans being developed by the Council of Eminent Persons.

The other council members are former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas president Mohd Hassan Merican and prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

Dubbed the “Sugar King of Asia”, Kuok has set up a huge empire with cross-border businesses spanning from commodity trading to hotels, sugar and oil palm plantations, property development and entertainment.

His Kuok Brothers retains control of hotel, cinemas, flour, palm oil and property businesses in Malaysia after selling the local sugar business. The group’s listed entities here include PPB Group, Shangrila Hotels and FFM Bhd.

As the senior businessman may not be able to travel much, tycoon Tan Sri Chua Ma Yu sees the appointment of Kuok to the council as a “more symbolic” move.

“It can be seen as a form of support to the new government from Malaysia’s richest man to create confidence – domestic and international.

“But it will be more convincing if the group starts investing in Malaysia aggressively via action, after talking so much about loyalty to Malaysia,” adds Chua, who owns CMY International.

It is noteworthy that after PPB’s annual general meeting on May 15, its managing director Lim Soon Huat told reporters the group had plans to expand its flour business and build cinemas within three to four years.

Previously, the group had indicated intention to sell its Golden Screen Cinemas chain.

The group will also expand its participation in public utilities projects and purchase more land for property development.

Kuok has not replied to Sunday Star’s email on his future plans.

Apart from being admired for his business achievements, Kuok is seen as the most appropriate person to help mend the currently uneasy relations between Malaysia and China due to the council’s move to review mega Chinese projects here.

Dr Mahathir and his Pakatan coalition members have promised to cut down corruption and impose transparency in the awarding of contracts, and review mega contracts with unfair terms and shady dealings.

With national debt at 51% of the gross national product, Malaysia needs to cut down its spending on mega projects.

Under the previous government, China-linked projects worth RM300bil-RM400bil had been approved or were being planned, according to some estimates.

Perhaps, Kuok is the only Malaysian who can lay claim that he had been invited to meet all the top leaders of China, from the late Deng Xiaoping to current President Xi Jinping.

China and its people have great respect for Kuok for his help and contributions to the mainland’s economic development from the 1970s.

After transferring his headquarters to Hong Kong, Kuok ventured into China and was one of the earliest investors to help develop the economy of backward China then.

While China was facing sugar shortage in the 1970s, the deft international commodity trader engineered a complicated trading scheme to help the poor country buy sugar at low prices. He let go a great golden opportunity to earn big in the international sugar market.

For all his good deeds towards China, Beijing is grateful, according to cyber posts.

“I believe Robert Kuok can help our Government to renegotiate contracts with China and help resolve any issue pertaining to these negotiations,” says Yeoh of Asli.

On Thursday, BMI Research said a project at risk of cancellation is the RM55bil East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), awarded to China Communications Construction Company without open tender last year.

The Star reported on Wednesday that Malaysia Rail Link, the company handling ECRL, was being questioned on doubtful drawdown.

And under intense scrutiny leading to major revisions and potential cancellation are the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and Kuantan Port, according to BMI Research.

The Bandar Malaysia project, a flagship project of the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), will also come under review. Many Chinese companies are keen to invest in the project.

“If Malaysia starts cancelling railway projects and other projects of China, and negotiations hit the rock, Kuok may assist by going between them,” opines Chua.

Indeed, Kuok’s ability and China contacts should have impressed Dr Mahathir, who had witnessed how the tycoon helped Malaysia pass secret messages to China.

In the 1980s when Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister for the first time, Kuok had played an “intermediary role” in ending the 40-year-long communist insurgency by passing messages to and fro in risky situations.

The Malayan Communist Party (MCP) had to give up its arms struggle in the jungles of Peninsular Malaysia in 1989 after Beijing ended financial aid to MCP.

Anxious over of the fate of Chinese projects in Malaysia, the Embassy of China in Kuala Lumpur has requested for a meeting with Dr Mahathir to talk about cooperation.

It is learnt that last Friday, Ambassador Bai Tian met with a close friend of the Prime Minister to arrange for a meeting.

Bai Tian tells The Star: “China is ready to work closely with the new government for the sustained development of our bilateral relations.

“We are willing to make concerted efforts to further promote China-Malaysia ties to new heights.”

Apart from Chinese investments, Malaysia is an important regional partner of China in international affairs, particularly in relation to Asean and East Asia.

When Dr Mahathir helmed the country in the 1990s, he had lent support to China when the West warned of “China Threat” as the mainland was developing its economy fast.

Under the previous government, Malaysia and China relations kept hitting new highs. In 2013, Beijing upgraded China-Malaysia ties to comprehensive strategic partnership.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for eight consecutive years and it is one of the leading investors in the country.

But China can take consolation that after assuming office on May 10, Dr Mahathir said the new government supports the Belt and Road Initiative, and Malaysia welcomes FDI from all countries, including that from China.

The seasoned politician could also see that being friendly towards China – which is developing to become the world’s biggest economy, there is more to gain for Malaysia in terms of business opportunities and economic cooperation.

To derail or not to derail ECRL

Sunday, 20 May 2018
by joash ee de silva

KUANTAN: Residents in the state have expressed mixed feelings over the need for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which is under review by the new administration.

The project, reported by the previous administration to cost RM55bil, will reduce travel time from Bentong to Gombak from the current 90-minute drive to 25 minutes, and from Gombak to Kota Baru to less than four hours compared to the current seven hours by road.

Council of Eminent Persons member Tun Daim Zainuddin, however, said the project could cost RM11bil more.

Office administrator Zurina Othman, 30, who is from here, said her family had diffe ring opinions over the project.

But for her, having an added option for public transport that shortens travel time to Kuala Lumpur was appreciated.

“If I ever need to visit my relatives and friends in Kuala Lumpur, it would be much easier and safer,” she said.

Bentong native Leong Sun Min, 28, who works in Kuala Lumpur, said she preferred the train if given a choice.

“It means less traffic at toll booths and makes it easier to get to Bentong during festive periods.

“If more people take the train, it should also mean less traffic in town,” said the 3D artist.

However, Leong expressed concern about the possibility of increased cost of living.

“My family is worried that the train service will lead to increased prices of food, housing and other things if there are more tourists and people visiting,” she said.

Accountant Ken Tan, 26, said it would make no difference to his family, who preferred to drive to Kuala Lumpur instead of taking public transport.

“We go back to Kuala Lumpur often on weekends, but we’d rather drive so that we can have our own car to move about,” he said.

For Bentong-born writer Rajendran Nan dan, who lives here, the project should be scrapped if it was to cost more than RM66bil.

“If the ticket price is going to be affordable, then I agree. I think it’s better to rehabilitate existing train tracks that run to Kelantan from KL Sentral through Jerantut, and double the tracks to increase frequency,” said the 45-year-old.

He added that it would be pointless if a mega project were to be mostly used by tra vellers during the weekends or holiday seasons instead of on a regular basis.

Salesman Ahmad Syukri, 32, said the project should continue since it had already started.

“It will allow me to go back to my hometown in Kelantan more often,” said Ahmad, who works here.

“But the cost of the project is a concern. It may burden the country,” he added.

On Wednesday, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the state government hoped that the Federal Govern ment would continue with mega projects such as the ECRL and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park."
China's Belt and Road Initiative - Education
(Information current as at 27 November 2017)
The Belt and Road (B&R) initiative (short for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road) is a strategic foreign policy and economic strategy which was announced in September 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The initiative aims to strengthen connectivity and economic collaboration between China and countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, and has since become a major focus for China’s economic development … for more, go to