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KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Tun Daim Zainuddin has a “certain ability” that made him best suited as the government’s negotiator on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), the prime minister said in Parliament today.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was answering Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau), who asked why the former head of the Council of Eminent Persons was appointed to negotiate with Beijing ahead of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
“We chose based on certain abilities, because sometimes when we negotiate, we need someone who is accepted by other parties, and we also have certain restrictions in choosing the person to become our negotiator.
“That’s why we chose someone else, whom we evaluated as someone who is skilled and capable of negotiating with China. This is why we chose Tun Daim,” Dr Mahathir said.
He said an agreement with China will be finalised and announced soon.
The PM also expressed hope for successful negotiations and said the government is confident of executing the project on an altered scale that would be beneficial without being financially burdensome.
In an interview with Chinese vernacular daily Nanyang Siang Pau last month, Daim reportedly said that a negotiation team for the China government is expected to visit Malaysia for further discussion on the ECRL.
He declined to divulge details of the negotiations by citing its “sensitive” nature.