Yoursay: Is Dr M's stand on China brilliant or bluster?


Modified 15 Apr 2019, 11:06 pm

YOURSAY | 'Nothing in Beijing's international diplomacy is coincidental.'

Dr M stood up to China when others didn't - Forbes contributor

Ocean Master: Credit where it is due. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his cabinet achieved something extraordinary when they reduced the cost of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) to RM44 billion from the initial RM66.5 billion.

It is a good outcome for Malaysia. Forbes contributor and economist Panos Mourdoukoutas points to the fact that Mahathir set a new narrative in dealing with China.

This is because Putrajaya has proved that you can actually negotiate with Beijing, instead of what happened with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and a number of African nations.

I believe China played 'ah long' (loan shark) for the desperate nations along its Silk Road route. Pakistan and Sri Lanka were almost bankrupt, and the African nations were no different. 

Back home, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was also in dire straits with 1MDB, and likely went running to the ah long to cover up the losses.

China is exactly as Mourdoukoutas describes. It will have to displace about 300 million of its own people in the next 50 years as it can no longer support the growing population anymore, being an energy and commodity-deficit country.

Nothing in Beijing's international diplomacy is coincidental. By acceding to negotiate a positive outcome, its an indicator of the agility of the country's leadership to reposition their strategy and be seen as magnanimous.

Orang KG IA: Many developing and poor nations succumbed to China in the name of development, aided by their corrupt leaders.

In the end, Beijing will only make the poor in those countries poorer, by forcing them to pay huge taxes and holding back development. 

Tok Jangut: Mahathir did not stand up to China. He stood up for Malaysia.

Mourdoukoutas is just stirring things up, and playing to the United States' tune. China’s One Belt One Road (Obor) initiative has helped many nations, unlike the US, which only leaves devastation in its wake.

Spinnot: Mourdoukoutas says "many of China’s infrastructure projects aren’t economically viable, as they are built at inflated costs and leave countries involved heavily indebted to Beijing."

First, there are close to a thousand Obor projects. Mourdoukoutas has to be specific and name them. Secondly, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says developing Asia Pacific's infrastructure needs an excess of US$22.6 trillion through 2030. 

China is just helping to fill the funding gap when much of the West themselves are in a credit crunch. The sour grapes here are not because the countries involved are borrowing money, but because they are borrowing from China.

Mourdoukoutas also says that Sri Lanka was left heavily indebted to China. Why not support the statement with figures? 

In fact, of the estimated US$55 billion foreign debt of Sri Lanka, 14 percent is owed to the ADB, 12 percent to Japan, 11 percent the World Bank, and 10 percent to China.

The Analyser: This so-called renegotiated price of RM44 billion has more to do with showing how much more fiscally responsible and 'ethical' the Harapan government is compared to Najib Abdul Razak's administration.

Seemingly, Harapan was never interested in justifying the need for the ECRL. All they wanted was to show how much better they are than BN.

If the rakyat have to bear the cost of Harapan's ego primping, then stuff the rakyat. And as we all know, megaprojects are an open door for corruption, Mahathir-style.

Khalil Gibran: We know Mahathir is driven by his ego. During his previous term as prime minister, he picked fights with Britain, Europe and the US. He constantly manufactures drama to camouflage his wheeling and dealing.

When our currency collapsed during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, he made George Soros out to be a bogeyman, when it was partly his own alleged thieving that contributed to the collapse.

Now people are saying he's taking on China? Are you joking? We just bowed to them and restarted the ECRL.

Mission Accomplished: When China fights an opponent that is not in its class, it does not need to throw haymakers. 

Other world leaders know standing up to the superpower is foolish and unproductive. Mahathir must still be stuck in the 1990s, so this is still his line of thinking. 

ECRL salient points: RM1b refund, more locals and CCCC to share risk

JusticeNow!: With the Beijing-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) sharing the risk of operations and maintenance, at least we have a guarantee that it won't be a shoddy job.

CCCC is not just profiting from the project, but it will have to ensure that it pays dividends in the long run. 

Well done Harapan! With double-tracking, it might just be possible to turn a profit by making Kuantan Port and Port Klang as trans-shipment and distribution hubs. 

It would help the movement of goods to Sabah and Sarawak, thereby reducing the cost of living. I can see a silver lining already.

FellowMalaysian: I agree with the government's decision to choose to save RM21.5 billion with the revised route, and terminating the ECRL at a cost of RM21.8 billion compensation.

There will be a 30-month delay in delivery, but it is bearable, considering that no one is in a hurry to use the rail service. But why the revised line has lengthened the construction period when the project cost has come down is a wonder.

Forget about the unsustainable economic returns from ECRL for the time being, as we will never be able to arrive at a justifiable figure.

Just to save us from having to pay the painful RM21.8 billion sum for termination, Putrajaya must proceed with the ECRL, but make sure all is done in a transparent manner.

Shovelnose: A great turnaround from a deadbeat contract agreed to by the former prime minister. 

The sharing of cost and risk is an obvious preference, given that we would have to bear with very significant losses without the expertise and experience to run the show. 

The blockhead former PM left us for dead with his irresponsible contract. 

Now, it up to the federal and state governments to leave aside politicking and push for economic activities along this alignment corridor. No time to be lazy and to wait for things to happen.

Milshah: China has proven to be a good friend of Malaysia, by being willing to renegotiate. Now, if they could just give us fugitive financier Low Taek Jho...

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