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Was ECRL called off to ‘punish’ non-Harapan states, asks Wee
Published:  Aug 23, 2018 9:25 AM
Updated: 6:03 AM

MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong has questioned if the Pakatan Harapan government had called off the construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) to “punish” East Coast states that failed to vote for the ruling coalition in the 14th general election (GE14). 

He also urged that contract and feasibility study documents for the megaproject be declassified for public scrutiny.

Referring to a YouTube video that showed parts of the project had been completed, Wee said the clip raised questions as to if the ECRL ought to be scrapped. 

“Some (have) even wondered if this cancellation was a punishment to the three states that could have benefited the most from this project – Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang – as they are states not under the control of the Harapan government.

“It is only fair that Malaysians are given all the facts so that we can evaluate for ourselves if Harapan’s allegations are true and if cancelling the three projects is the right decision,” he said in a statement published on his Facebook page last night.

Kelantan and Terengganu are administered by PAS while Pahang is under BN. 

Aside from the ECRL, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had at the end of his trip to Beijing announced that the government will also be deferring two gas pipeline projects by Suria Strategic Energy Resources (SSER) because the country could not afford them.

Standing by his previous assessment that Mahathir’s trip had been a “failure”, he urged Harapan to justify deferring the projects. 

“I call on the government to show us (declassify the documents if necessary) the feasibility studies, cost-benefit analysis and economic impact studies done for all three cancelled projects.

“(And) show us (declassify the documents if necessary) the contracts for all three projects including the termination and compensation clauses,” he said.

Mahathir had previously predicted that Malaysia will have to pay high compensation for deferring the projects and blamed the former BN government for its “historic stupidity” in agreeing to such contracts.

China firms involved in corruption?

The premier had also criticised BN for agreeing to pay the contractors of these megaprojects, both Chinese firms, based on a timeline rather than on work done. 

Wee, who is the Ayer Hitam MP, asked for proof of misconduct.

“With regard to the two (SSER) pipeline projects and the alleged unfair terms of payment upfront, show us proof that the contractor, (China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau, CPPB), which is the fourth largest company in the world, will not complete the two pipelines within the agreed three years period.

“Tell us if the Harapan government's stand is that (ECRL contractor China Communications Construction Company, CCCC) and CPPB, which are state-owned companies and among the biggest in the world, have engaged in corrupt practices in deceiving and cheating Malaysia,” he said.

Wee also mooted that a Royal Commission of Inquiry is called for the three megaprojects in question, if needed.

Meanwhile, Pahang Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail (photo) is calling on the federal government to reconsider the cancellation of the ECRL in view of losses to be incurred by the three states involved.

According to The Star, he said this was as early construction work had already begun.

He said in Pahang's case about 14 percent of early construction work had already been completed.

Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail is appealing to the Federal Government to reconsider the cancellation of the ECRL project.

Besides causing the loss of jobs, Wan Rosdy said the move would be a loss to Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan where early construction work had been carried out.

"At sites like Genting and Bentong, tunnel boring works for ECRL's underground rail have already begun.

"The land acquisition application is already at the state legal adviser's office and this includes privately-owned land that has to be gazetted to determine compensation," the Star quoted him saying in a statement.