The renegotiated East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project offers plenty of opportunities to local contractors, including bumiputeras, in public works like supplies and technical aspects, said Daim Zainuddin.
Daim, the prime minister’s special envoy who successfully renegotiated the project with the Chinese government on April 12, said local contractors should seize these opportunities as the project offers many attractive packages that will change the country’s economic landscape, and it will be a loss to let these chances slip.
"If you lack capability, you need to cooperate closely with foreign experts because many packages will be offered. In fact, it is not impossible for their (local contractors) involvement to exceed 40 percent if the collaboration succeeds. I can see, maybe in supplies and technical aspects. So, they should be prepared.
“They should go and discuss with Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), show the expertise and services that can be offered. This is an international tender, need to be productive, don’t wait for opportunities to come knocking, don’t wait for people to call, don’t criticise without facts, business people must move.
“Come and see me if you are shy; I will help if they are really qualified. Don’t expect the government to feed you; you yourself should prepare and go meet the industry players,” he told Bernama in an interview at his Kuala Lumpur office.
The ECRL project was started by the previous government under Barisan Nasional but was suspended last year by the Pakatan Harapan government because of its high cost.
Last April 12, MRL and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) signed a Supplementary Agreement (SA) which paves the way for the resumption of the mega project.
Under the new agreement, construction of Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL will be resumed at a cost of RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion from the original projection of RM65.5 billion. The rail line will have a new alignment which cuts its distance by 40 km to 648 km and reduces its cost per kilometre from RM98 million to RM68 million.
On April 15, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the SA will boost the participation of Malaysia in public works of the ECRL project to 40 per cent from 30 per cent previously.
ECRL will not be white elephant
Daim said the ECRL will not be a white elephant as it will carry 70 per cent cargo and 30 per cent passengers and will have spillovers like creating job opportunities, especially for people in the east coast.
"For sure, this project is among the biggest for the east coast people and most expensive ever undertaken to bring about a balance (in development) between the west and east because all this while they have been left behind. The east coast will change; we have opportunities with the implementation of ECRL.
“In fact, I have discussed (ECRL prospects) with the Terengganu menteri besar. And I will go to Kelantan later. We hope the states involved will take the opportunity to hold various promotions to attract investors.
“This is a chance to use the opportunity wisely because this project is the biggest ever implemented on the east coast alignment, which is rich in east coast culture and customs, delicious food, business and investment opportunities. Because of this, we need to seize the opportunities for our common good,” he said.
He said the business and tourism sectors are among those that will benefit from the ECRL as it will definitely create economic opportunities and new jobs at each station and stop.
“If, previously, we can be successful in the west coast, why can’t we do the same for the east coast? This has the potential to bring about balanced development in Peninsular Malaysia,” said Daim, a former finance minister.
The new alignment covers 648 km over five states - Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan - and Putrajaya, compared to only four states under the old alignment.