Following is an editorial adapted from NST Online complete with responses by TTF (in blue):
PUTRAJAYA: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project could resume as early as next month if approvals from the relevant authorities are obtained.
Darwis Abdul Razak, chief executive officer of Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) which is the project owner, said if all goes well, work on the suspended project could start immediately.
TTF: Had Mahathir not interfered, the actual cost of the East Coast Railway-Link would have been an estimated USD13.1 billion as agreed upon by the Government of Malaysia (GoM) with the state-owned China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC).
The company awarded the project, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), would also have retained a 100 per cent ownership of the project, as compared to now, where the project main contractor, China Communications Construction Ltd (CCCC), has been given a 50 per cent stake in MRL.
Due to the stop work order previously issued to CCCC, the Chinese government estimated that its contractors suffered losses worth USD1.5 to 2 billion, with smaller players linked to those contractors ceasing operations altogether.
The Star Online put the number of workers retrenched as a result of the stop work order at 1,000 people.
Quoting unnamed sources, the report alleged that the suspension affected a significant number of Chinese expatriates and senior executives who The Third Force was told were skilled and paid millions in compensations.
An industrial source familiar with the matter, when met, related that the contractors also paid massive amounts in deposits for three year-long blanket orders to anticipate a rise in construction material costs.
To resolve the matter, Mahathir got Daim to renegotiate terms with China leading to CCCC’s 50 per cent stake in ERL.
All this just to allow Mahathir’s cronies and Daim’s banking network to get involved with the project.
NST Online continued..
Malaysia and China agreed to resume the construction of the ECRL project at a cost of RM44 billion, almost one-third cheaper than the originally proposed figure.
Among other things, changes were made to the original ECRL route to avoid the construction of an 18km tunnel cutting into the Titiwangsa range, subsequently reducing the overall cost of the multibillion-ringgit project.
The 640km alignment will cut through five states instead of four.