Nearly 1,000 people have reportedly lost their jobs after Putrajaya pulled the brakes on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.
Citing inside sources, Singapore-based media outlet Channel News Asia reported that nearly half of 2,250 workers employed by ECRL's main contractor China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC) had been sacked, as the company did not know when the project would resume.
Meanwhile, some of the employees from China had reportedly gone back home on long leave.
The report said most of those out of work were locals.
Putrajaya issued a stop-work order to the ECRL almost three weeks ago, amid plans to find ways to cut costs on the project.
In a statement issued today, Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged the government to consider the human impact from delaying the project.
"(Besides) pouring sand into the rice bowls of the 1,000 workers... the government had also blocked the opportunity for locals along the project's path to earn an extra few ringgit (from doing business with workers).
"Is this the government being 'fair and humane' as they've said all this while?
"Reviewing the ECRL should be praised, but the humanitarian side of it should be looking into, include the fate of foreign workers who have lost their jobs and income to continue living in the country," Ismail Sabri said.
He hoped that the government's negotiations with Beijing to reduce the scale and cost of the ECRL would be done soon, so those who lost their jobs can be rehired.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced that the actual cost of the ECRL was RM81 billion and the sum would have to be “reduced significantly” for the project to be financially viable.
This is in contrast to the RM55 billion price tag stated by the BN government previously.