Equal ECRL joint venture with China not a security threat, MRL tells Najib

A man looks at a map of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) during a ground-breaking ceremony in Tunjong, Kota Baru, April 11, 2018. — Bernama pic
A man looks at a map of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) during a ground-breaking ceremony in Tunjong, Kota Baru, April 11, 2018. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) Sdn Bhd today rebutted Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that the 50:50 joint venture with China on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) could pose a security threat, claiming that the workings of the country’s internal details could be exposed to foreigners.

In a statement today, MRL pointed out that there are inherent differences between a joint operation and ownership, adding that the collaboration between Malaysia and China does not cede ownership of the ECRL to the republic, via the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

“The 50:50 joint venture (JV) company between MRL and CCCC will not pose any threat to national security, as the JV company will be under the management of Malaysia.

“The directors of the JV company and the appointment of the chief executive officer will be at the discretion of the MRL,” the statement read.

MRL said that the Malaysian government will fully own all of ECRL’s assets via MRL, “from the beginning to the end of the joint MOM arrangement.”

MOM refers to the joint Management, Operation and Maintenance of the ECRL.

“We must distinguish between ownership and joint operations. The joint operations arrangement does not in any way whatsoever involve ceding any form of ownership of the ECRL to CCCC.

“It is purely about the sharing of MOM costs, plus the exchange of technical know-how and expertise between CCCC and MRL,” MRL added.

The former prime minister had yesterday commented on CCCC’s alleged role to manage, operate and maintain the ECRL in a joint-venture with MRL.

He asserted that Malaysians have the capabilities to manage the entire rail system, as they have long trained professionals for this particular role.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Friday announced that the construction cost for Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL has now been now reduced to RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion from its original cost of RM65.5 billion.

The mega project was initially suspended after Pakatan Harapan defeated Barisan Nasional to win over Putrajaya, owing to its egregious cost.