KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called for royal inquiries into the cancelled East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and two gas pipeline projects that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said were monumentally “stupid”.
He said the public have a right to know all the reasons why the projects were cancelled on the Malaysian government’s insistence, instead of only depending on the allegations made against him and the defeated Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
“I urge the government to conduct RCIs (royal commissions of inquiry) into all three projects to determine if there was wrongdoing,” he wrote on his Facebook page this evening.
Commenting on the prime minister’s announcements from Beijing, China, Najib said the decision would be detrimental to residents on the east coast of the peninsula.
The former PM also rejected the argument that the ECRL’s cost had ballooned from RM30 billion to RM55 billion, saying the initial figure was derived in 2009 and for a 545km line, which has since increased to 688km, including a 50km tunnel.
On the allegation that the financing was exorbitant, he insisted that the loan for the project attracted 3.25 per cent in annual interest for the 20-year tenure.
He also insisted that Malaysia could have afforded all three projects even if they amounted to RM90 billion, as estimated by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, but claimed this was no longer possible with the removal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“I don’t want to comment about the remark that ‘Najib is stupid’ or whatnot made by Dr Mahathir in China. The projects’ agreements did have exit clauses,” he maintained.
“These are not like agreements for IPP concessions or tolled highways from Mahathir’s time, which cause the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government to fail in delivering its pledge to abolish tolls.”
Upon the conclusion of his visit to China, Dr Mahathir said Beijing had agreed to cancel the ECRL and two gas pipeline projects as Malaysia could not afford to proceed with them now.
However, he said the matter of compensation must now be negotiated by officials from both countries.
Dr Mahathir left a parting remark accusing Najib of “such stupidity (that) has never been seen before in the history of Malaysia”, after saying that the agreements did not contain ouster clauses.