PETALING JAYA — January 28, 2018: The confusion over the status of the East Coast Railway Link (ECRL) gets more confusing as another minister has given a version that contradicts the accounts recently stated by other ministers who also contradicted each other.
This time International Trade and Industry Minister Darrell Leiking says that the government is still negotiating with China, meaning that there is no finality as yet with regard to the project.
This contradicts Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali, who two days ago said the Cabinet had recently decided to scrap the 688-kilometre railway which forms part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Azmin’s statement was however news to his Cabinet colleagues, including Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
While Lim remarked that Azmin was not privy to discussions the former had with Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Muhyiddin said was not aware on the decision as stated by Azmin.
As for Wan Azizah, this was her version: “Maybe at the beginning what Azmin said was true but other factors could have cropped up, where we needed to reconsider. That is my analysis of the situation.”
And this was what Leiking said: “Trust us. We want to reduce the cost and this is being reviewed and negotiated with China. Whatever forms that comes in later will be done based on our consultation with China,” said Leiking at a press conference today.
He also chimed the presumption by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah that the ECRL, even if cancelled, will not affect Malaysia-China ties.
“If you look at it, ever since that issue came out China has never said any word, have you realised that? They did not say anything. So just trust what the government is doing.”
The confusion over the government’s position has been dragging on since Pakatan Harapan formed the federal government after winning the May 9 elections last year.
In a bid maybe to demystify the drama, Lim yesterday and earlier today said that the government will issue an official statement this week while later today, Mahathir kicked the ball to Lim’s court, who he said will be making a statement.