KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and China are expected to ink an agreement on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project tomorrow.
Sin Chew Daily, in its online report today, quoted a source from the Malaysian negotiation team as saying that the final details were being negotiated.
According to the report, Tun Daim Zainuddin, who is the special envoy of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has arrived in Beijing and is negotiating the final details with China.
The report said Daim, who is also the Council of Eminent Persons chairman, is scheduled to hold a press conference at the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing at 2pm tomorrow, where he is expected to announce the outcome of the final negotiation.
An invitation for the press conference sent by Malaysia Rail Link to the Malaysian media today, stated that Daim was on a working visit to China to finalise the ECRL project re-negotiation on behalf the Malaysian government with China.
A Malaysia Rail Link spokesman, meanwhile, said they did not have any details on what the announcement would be.
However, Daim had on March 22 said the government was expected to finalise the ECRL project in early April, with cost savings of about RM10 billion.
In an interview on TV3’s prime-time “Buletin Utama” programme, Daim said the project would have new commercial elements that would have a greater impact on Malaysian companies and people.
Daim said Malaysia had received an invitation from the Chinese government to finalise the project on April 2.
“Alhamdulillah, in the present situation, we may be able to resolve this as soon as possible … I have a good relationship with them as I have known them since 1971. Maybe they are comfortable with me,” he was quoted as saying.
Daim was appointed by the government as the prime minister’s special envoy to head the ECRL negotiation with China.
News reports had previously suggested that the current renegotiation on the ECRL could see its construction price pegged at RM50 million to RM60 million per km, as well as a commitment by the Chinese government to buy Malaysian palm oil and bring in projects.
The ECRL project was previously approved by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in October 2016 at a cost of RM55 billion.
However, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that the government would be saddled with a RM130 billion debt if the ECRL project is implemented on current terms and conditions.
The 688-kilometer ECRL, if built, would link Port Klang in Selangor to Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan.