Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday said the future of the China backed East Coast Rail Link project, in limbo for months, was unlikely to be resolved before he visits Beijing in April for a Summit on the Belt and Road Initiative.
The multibillion-dollar Rail project once hailed as a key part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature project to fund and build infrastructure across Asia faces the threat of cancellation after work was suspended last July.
Mahathir’s administration, with the Premier’s top confidante Daim Zainuddin at the helm, is in Direct government-to-government negotiations with Beijing to drastically reduce the project’s price tag.
According to Kuala Lumpur’s latest estimates, the true cost of the 688km line would be 130 billion ringgit (US$32 billion), rather than the 55 billion ringgit (US$13 billion) touted by Mahathir’s predecessor as Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Mahathir claims Najib offered the contractor, China Communication Construction Company, a sweetheart deal.