Continue ECRL? We would if we could, says Dr M

Zurairi Ar
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad insisted today that Putrajaya simply cannot afford the ECRL. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

SINGAPORE, Nov 13 — Amid protracted negotiations with China over the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad insisted today that Putrajaya simply cannot afford the multi-billion ringgit project.

Speaking to reporters at the Asean Business and Investment Summit here, the prime minister said Putrajaya lacked funds to proceed with it, even as he refuses to discount the necessity of the public transport line.

“We don’t have the money. It’s not because the project is not doable,” Dr Mahathir said when asked if Putrajaya has finalised the discussion with China.

“We may even require them. But at this moment we have no money, and we have a huge debt to repay.”

Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya will consider all options including aborting the project, postponing it, or shortening the length of the link.

“Anything that will solve us from having to spend precious money,” he added.

In August, Dr Mahathir clarified that studies are still being made on whether to defer the China-backed multi-billion ringgit ECRL project or deal with it in some other way.

ECRL, the RM81 billion-project spanning 688km linking Port Klang and Kota Baru, was launched last year and slated for completion in 2024.

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