No conditions set for Samurai bond, says Dr M

Manirajan Ramasamy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Japanese government is not putting any conditions in its offer to guarantee the issuance of RM7.4 billion Samurai bond to Malaysia, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said Japan’s offer for the Yen-dominated bond, at a total value of RM7.4 billion, came with “no strings attached.”

“The Samurai bond can be used to repay (the country’s) loans or spent on various development projects.

“No, there are no strings attached,” he told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the World Chinese Economic Forum at Seri Kembangan on Friday.

Also present was WCEF organising committee chairman, Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh; co-chairman and Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Nga Kor Ming, as well as Malaysia’s special envoy to China, Tan Kok Wai.

The Samurai Bond has a tenure of 10 years and is expected to be issued before March next year via Japan Bank of International Cooperation at an indicative coupon of 0.65 percent.

Dr Mahathir, however, noted that Japanese rail company, JR Kyushu, was among the leaders in the industry hence why Malaysia is keen to gain knowledge and experience from Japan in the field.

“Yes, JR Kyushu is one of the most successful Japan railway companies. We want to learn from them. We want them to advice us on how to manage our transport system,” he said.

During his recent trip to Japan, Dr Mahathir said the government is seeking JR Kyushu's cooperation to conduct a study on the national railway system. This, he had said, was to ensure that the services would fully benefit the country and the people given that only 30 per cent of the rail system is being utilised.

The prime minister also confirmed that negotiations are ongoing with China on the suspended East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

“Yes, it is not an easy thing to negotiate. We will continue (with negotiations) until we succeed,” he said.

Asked on how long the negotiations will take, Dr Mahathir replied: “I cant tell how long (it will take). I don’t know the progress, the time table.”

Tun Daim Zainuddin, who is the Council of Eminent Persons chairman and former finance minister, had on Thursday said that negotiations are still ongoing between Malaysia and China with regards to the ECRL project.

Daim had said that the country was looking at the many options to handle the RM80 billion rail line project from Port Klang to Pengkalan Kubor. Both parties, Daim said, need a “little bit” more time to address the issue.

Meanwhile, touching on the planned third national car project, Dr Mahathir explained that it was a private sector-driven effort and thus, have many choices with regards to whose technology to adapt.

“The third national car is a private sector effort. How they do it is up to them. They can opt for Japan or China or Korea (to forge a cooperation). We have no conditions for them.”

Earlier, in his keynote address at the conference, Dr Mahathir paid tribute to the contributions of the Malaysian Chinese community to the country and its economy.

He said Malaysia would be in a different situation were it not for its Chinese community.

“Without the Chinese community, we would have been lagging behind in terms of development. They (the Chinese) have a knack for creating wealth whereever they go.

“But their contribution has not always been confirmed to business and making profit, but in other fields as well,” Dr Mahathir stressed.

The prime minister also noted that Malaysia, despite being a multiracial country, has remained peaceful and stable, with the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others working together, even in politics.

“The coalition of Malay, Chinese and Indians parties manage to overthrow a 61-year-old government.. a kleptocratic government.

Today, we remain peaceful and stable. Democracy has been restored again, ” Dr Mahathir said in reference to Pakatan Harapan’s win over Barisan Nasional in the 14th general election. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd