KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin is expected to wrap-up negotiations with China on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) before the end of this month.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said last night that it was hoped that the discussions would conclude before Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leaves for China for the Belt and Road Forum, which starts on April 26.
“We want to see that both countries will be able to continue to strengthen our bilateral and economic ties,” he told reporters after a ceramah in Rantau.
Azmin said he had spoken briefly with Daim yesterday and they were still in the process of finalising details of the ECRL, including cost-cutting measures and the new alignment for the 688km rail line.
On Sunday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook confirmed that the realignment of the ECRL was being discussed after Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng alluded to it a day earlier.
“As transport minister, I can say what Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed yesterday on ECRL is correct as the ECRL project is being negotiated and there will be a decision in a few weeks as Tun Dr Mahathir will be going to China at the end of this month.
“If it is successful, it is confirmed Negri Sembilan will benefit as we want to focus on development here,” he had said.
Lim had indicated that the project would proceed if the cost of construction was reduced to RM35 billion from the original RM66 billion.
The Pakatan Harapan government had suspended the ECRL project when it ousted Barisan Nasional in the general election last year due to its high cost.
Dr Mahathir, who had said that the project would leave the country indebted for an entire generation, last month said the ECRL will continue only if the price is right.