KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 — Chinese firms are certain to win the bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore rail project given the part they played in 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) debt rationalisation plan, DAP’s Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong claimed today.
Among other things, Liew cited the China Railway Engineering Corporation Sdn Bhd and Iskandar Waterfront Holdings’ joint RM7.42 billion purchase yesterday of a 60 per cent stake in 1MDB’s Bandar Malaysia’s land bank to back his claim.
To support his prediction, Liew also cited 1MDB’s alleged “firesale” of its energy assets under its Edra Global Energy Berhad unit to China General Nuclear Power Corp for RM9.83 billion in cash, with the Chinese firm to take over an undisclosed amount of debt and 13 power plants in five countries including Malaysia.
“It is now a foregone conclusion that a China-led consortium would be awarded the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project,” the DAP national political education director said in a statement today.
The planned Bandar Malaysia development will serve as Kuala Lumpur’s gateway for the high speed rail-line to Singapore and become a central transport hub.
Liew said that he had repeatedly asked the Malaysian government to release the report on the feasibility on the upcoming bullet train project, noting that an expanded railway system that can carry both passengers and freight between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore could be a better alternative.
“But with the 1MDB firesale, the government has jumped the gun in deciding on a) going ahead with HSR without extensive consultation with the public; b) giving it to a China-led consortium. Such is not good policy making at all,” he said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that the deals that 1MDB entered into in 2015 will see the state-owned investment firm’s debts trimmed down by around RM40.4 billion — or almost all of its previously reported accumulated debt of RM41.8 billion.
1MDB embarked on three-legged rationalisation plan that began in June last year, beginning with a share swap deal with Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and the sale of its prized energy assets Edra Global Energy Bhd to a Chinese firm in November.
Liew however questioned today whether 1MDB’s sale of energy assets to China-linked firms are in Malaysia’s national interest.
To allow the Edra sale to go through, Liew pointed out that the Malaysian government was forced to bend its rules on foreign ownership and had for the first time allowed foreign ownership of a strategic industry in the country — power generation.
He also asked if it would lead to a compromise in the country’s long-held neutrality when faced with the two superpowers’ China and the US’s contest for influence in Southeast Asia.
“The ultimate question is, should Malaysia sell strategic businesses to China in exchange of a bailout for 1MBD? Will Malaysia’s long-held posturing be compromised?”