The status of the construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) depends on the outcome of negotiations between the private companies involved, says Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
He said the companies should be given a reasonable time period to review and renegotiate several matters before coming to a final decision.
"What’s important the leaders of both countries have agreed on the need to negotiate the project and this will facilitate the outcome. China understands the problems faced by the Malaysian government.
"However, the decision and details lie with the companies. If we continue with the project how much will it cost, and if it is scrapped, hopefully they will not impose a high penalty,” he said when met after the '10 Janji 100 Hari: Apa Kata Menteri’ dialogue programme in Kuantan today.
Saifuddin was asked to comment on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's statement that the government was studying whether to defer or find other means of implementing the ECRL.
On Mahathir's statement that he would like to see the ‘Great Wall of China’ surrounding the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) go down, Saifuddin said the matter should be viewed from a legal perspective.
He added that checks should be done to find out if there was an agreement which allows the construction of the wall, and whether there is a provision of the law to allow the tearing down of the wall.
"I don’t think this will affect relations with China as it is a business relationship. We want to ensure that MCKIP is successful as it provides jobs to the locals, but the workers' welfare and safety must be taken care of," he said.
Saifuddin, who is also Indera Mahkota MP, added that several problems in MCKIP could have resulted due to their lack of understanding on Malaysian rules and regulations and the new government was committed to resolving the situation.
"We do not blame them for the misunderstanding as the fault lies with the previous government and as the new government, matters not according to law must be corrected," he said.