BEIJING, Aug 19 — The Barisan Nasional government’s policies were so accommodative to China that it essentially put Malaysia on sale to the Asian superpower, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asserted today.
The prime minister’s remarks came on the eve of a series of talks tomorrow with China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
The status of Chinese interests in Malaysian infrastructure projects arranged by former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been in sharp focus during Dr Mahathir’s current trip to China.
However, Dr Mahathir has yet to comment directly on the fate of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) or other projects in Malaysia awarded to Chinese firms.
“The Malaysian market is very open. The last government wanted to sell the whole of Malaysia to China,” he told Malaysian businessmen at a lunch dialogue here today.
Prior to Dr Mahathir’s visit here, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed dubious payment structures for the ECRL and two gas pipeline projects here that allowed the Chinese concessionaires’ payments to be decoupled from work delivered.
The pipeline projects, in particular, featured time-based payments that allowed the Chinese firms to draw down RM8.3 billion out of the project’s combined value of RM9.4 billion without performing any tangible development.
Dr Mahathir was previously reported as intending to seek China’s agreement to cancel at least three such projects due to these suspicious payment structures or suspend these until Malaysia needs or can afford them.
Added attention is also on the visit to gauge Malaysia’s future stance towards China.
Najib had been especially keen on fostering ties with China, while Dr Mahathir is seen as less accommodating due to his previous remarks on Malaysia’s engagement with Chinese firms.