KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — Putrajaya will attempt to cancel suspicious infrastructure projects previously awarded to Chinese firms, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said ahead of his visit to China later this week.
The prime minister told the Associated Press in an interview that he was committed to keeping ties with China cordial, but said this must not come at the detriment of Malaysian interests.
Among items that he most intends to terminate are two gas pipeline projects worth RM9.4 billion awarded by the previous Barisan Nasional administration and which his finance minister previously alleged was almost fully paid despite no progress in work delivery.
“We don’t think we need those two projects. We don’t think they are viable. So if we can, we would like to just drop the projects,” he was quoted as saying.
The federal government has already suspended the two pipeline projects — one in Sabah and another in Melaka — and cancelled the East Coast Rail Link that was also awarded to and financed by Chinese firms.
Dr Mahathir said that if it is not possible to terminate the dubious projects, then he will seek to at least postpone them until Malaysia’s finances improve or the need for these infrastructure undertakings arises.
The prime minister also sought China’s commitment to ensure unfettered movement of vessels in the South China Sea and within Asean.
The global superpower has been increasing its presence in the region, both commercially and militarily, prompting geopolitical concerns and creating fears of conflict.
“We are all for ships, even warships, passing through, but not stationed here. It is a warning to everyone. Don’t create tension unnecessarily,” he was quoted as saying.