‘Wider prospects for cooperation between Malaysia and China’

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, center, displays the opposition manifesto placard during a political opposition alliance event in Shah Alam, Malaysia on March 8, 2018.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Vincent Thian
In Malaysia, a Win for Democracy
Malaysia has bucked Southeast Asia’s trend toward authoritarianism.
By HuiHui Ooi
May 11, 2018
Tun Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister on May 10 after an astonishing electoral victory that stunned many Malaysians and the world. The 92-year-old is now the world’s oldest leader. Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition trounced incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in general elections held on May 9. This is the first time since Malaysia’s independence in 1957 that an election has brought about a transfer of power and an end to BN rule in the Muslim-majority nation. It is also a big win for democracy … for more, go to https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/in-malaysia-a-win-for-democracy/ 

‘Wider prospects for cooperation between Malaysia and China’

KUALA LUMPUR (May 2018): The construction of the Belt Road Initiative (BRI)-linked East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) is progressing smoothly.

This was confirmed by China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian who told the media at a function today (May 26) the China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) was working closely with its owner, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL).

However, I Love Malaysia-China Silk Road understands that the new Malaysian Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government is likely to review the project cost and MRL.

It is believed that MRL was set up by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government that was toppled by PH in the May 9 14th General Election (GE14).

The ECRL sparked controversy in Malaysia because it was awarded to CCCC without open tender last year by the toppled BN federal government that had ruled Malaysia for six decades.

Malaysians deemed the ECRL to be too costly.

The BN government had announced last year that the ECRL would cost some RM55 billion but the PH government has to date uncovered more documents that show the ECRL would actually cost some RM67 billion!

China had picked Malaysia to be BRI’s Southeast Asia’s rail hub link to serve Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia.

When completed, the ECRL will connect Malaysia to at least 69 cities and countries in Asia, China, Europe, Scandinavian and Nordic countries.

Should the ECRL be scrapped by the (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamed-led PH federal government, Thailand is expected to reap BRI’s potential gains from enhanced trade and business activities as BRI’s SEA rail hub.

Here’s the latest on the BRI-ECRL project as reported by Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama and posted by online news portal Free Malaysia Today:

"No changes to ECRL project so far, says envoy

| May 26, 2018

China's Ambassador, Bai Tian, says the project is running smoothly and the main contractor is working closely with the project owner, Malaysian Rail Link Sdn Bhd.

China’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian. (File pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: No changes have been made to the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project so far, said China’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, today.

He said the project had started and was running smoothly, with its main contractor, China Communications Construction Company Ltd working closely with its owner, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd.

“As far as I know, there are no changes in ECRL project,” he told reporters after visiting the National Zoo to see the second cub of the giant panda couple, Xing Xing and Liang Liang, at the Giant Panda Conservation Centre.

The new Pakatan Harapan-led federal government has vowed to review all foreign mega projects to help reduce the nation’s expenditure as well as debts.

One of those projects could be the 688km ECRL which links Port Klang and Kota Bharu, at an estimated cost of RM55 billion. It is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Bai said he had called on the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on Thursday and Mahathir had assured him of wider prospects for cooperation between Malaysia and China.

“We feel that Malaysia’s new government has placed importance on the Malaysia-China relationship and there are many possibilities. We are confident that Malaysia and China will have greater development,” he said.

He added that Malaysia-China ties would continue to flourish under the new government.

Bai said both China and Malaysia have enjoyed good bilateral relations over the past 44 years, including the 22 years (1981-2003) when Dr Mahathir was first Prime Minister.

He said the good ties would continue to be maintained regardless of changes in both countries or globally.
Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathgir Mohamad after Friday prayers in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: AP
Fears that multibillion-dollar deals between China and Malaysia may no longer have a friend at the top may be premature – after all, the new prime minister has 134 billion reasons to maintain the status quo
14 MAY 2018 / UPDATED ON 16 MAY 2018
For years, Chinese and Malaysian officials have cheered their ambitious economic collaborations. But for now, at least, it seems the cheering is over. Mahathir Mohamad, often a vocal critic of Chinese investment deals while outside the circle of power, now sits in the centre of it as the new prime minister. Now all eyes are on how he will walk the talk. The 92-year-old politician, who last week defied the odds to unseat Najib Razak in the general election, has already said he will be re-examining all China-linked projects in the country, ringing early alarm bells for jittery analysts and economists. While many view his victory as a threat to Chinese investment, the long-term economic outlook remains positive. Trade relations between China and Malaysia, the conventional wisdom goes, are too big to fail. “We need to study all the things done by the previous government,” Mahathir said on Thursday before being sworn in as the country’s seventh prime minister. “It’s not only about China, it’s about a lot of things.” … for more, go to http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2145797/134-billion-reasons-mahathir-not-rethink-chinese-investment