Wan Azizah surprised by Cabinet confusion over ECRL

(FMT) – Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she could not understand the confusion among Cabinet members over the status of the China-backed RM81 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

This followed conflicting statements from Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Azmin had said the government had terminated China Communications Construction Group Ltd as the project’s contractor, while Lim said an official decision had yet to be made.

“I was abroad when the conflicting statements were issued. I will ask the Cabinet why this happened,” she told reporters today.

She said any decision on ECRL must be given serious consideration, adding that there could be other factors that surfaced later.

“Maybe Azmin was right initially but maybe other factors had come into play and there was a need to reconsider (the decision),” she added.

Singapore-based Straits Times earlier reported that CCCC’s contract was terminated following its failure to reduce the project cost by half to RM40 billion from RM81 billion previously and failing to meet several requests made by the government.

Azmin later confirmed the decision, saying the government felt the cost of the project was too high.

“If the project is not terminated, the government will have to bear the interest rate of about RM500 million a year,” he was quoted by Bernama as saying.

Later, Lim expressed surprise by the announcement, and said Azmin was not privy to discussions on the ECRL.

He said the government would issue an official statement later.