Dr Mahathir aims to scrap Chinese deals


Dr Mahathir aims to scrap Chinese deals

Aug 13 2018


By AP - August 13, 2018 @ 2:46pm

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Monday he will seek to cancel multibillion-dollar Chinese-backed infrastructure projects that were signed by his predecessor as his government works to dig itself out of debt, and he blasted Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims as “grossly unjust.”


Malaysia’s prime minister said Monday he will seek to cancel multibillion-dollar Chinese-backed infrastructure projects that were signed by his predecessor as his government works to dig itself out of debt, and he blasted Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims as “grossly unjust”. —fotoBERNAMA (2018) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA




The Prime Minister made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press days before the 93-year-old leader heads to Beijing for his first visit there since returning to power in an electoral upset three months ago.


Dr Mahathir said he wants to maintain good relations with China and welcomes its investment, so long as the projects benefit Malaysia.


But he took his toughest stance yet on Chinese-backed energy pipelines and a rail project along peninsular Malaysia’s eastern coast that were struck by his predecessor, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who faces trial on multiple charges related to the alleged multibillion-dollar looting of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state investment fund.


“We don’t think we need those two projects. We don’t think they are viable. So if we can, we would like to just drop the projects,” he said from his office in the administrative center of Putrajaya.


During his time in office, Najib drew Malaysia closer to China, which sees the multiethnic Southeast Asian country as a key part of its ambitious One Belt, One Road global trade initiative. The former prime minister reached deals for the 688-kilometer (430-mile) East Coast Rail Link and the two gas pipelines in 2016.


Malaysia’s new government has already suspended work on the projects, being built by Chinese state-backed companies, and called for drastic cuts in their ballooning cost, which it estimates at more than US$22 billion. Some of that money has already been paid and could be difficult to recoup.


    


If scrapping the projects altogether isn’t doable, Malaysia will need to at least put them on hold until the future, “where perhaps the need will arise,” Dr Mahathir said.


Dr Mahathir also urged China to respect the free movement of ships throughout the South China Sea  , where China and multiple Southeast Asian nations including Malaysia have competing claims on islands and reefs — along with the rich fishing grounds and potential fossil fuel deposits around them.


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https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/08/400855/dr-mahathir-aims-scrap-chinese-deals

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