Malaysia’s China-backed USD10.5bn East Coast Rail Link back on track, foreign minister says

  • All of the problems that derailed the China-backed East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia have now been resolved and the project is set to proceed with the greater involvement of local people, the Southeast Asian country said on 12 Sep 19.
  • A new deal was agreed in Apr 19 that cut the total cost of the scheme by almost a third to MYR44bn (USD10.5bn)
  • “You will see increased involvement by China in the project and at the same time, increased involvement by local companies and Malaysians.”
  • Sir Richard Shirreff, a former deputy supreme allied commander Europe for Nato and co-founder and managing partner of Strategia Worldwide, said that however welcome Chinese money might be in other countries, projects using imported Chinese labour, construction materials and engineering sent a “very negative signal” about the initiative.
  • He said lessons should be learned from the scheme’s “negative experiments”, like Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, which was leased back to its Chinese operator after the local government was unable to repay its debts.

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