4,500 acres of land for China company in new ECRL deal? Not true, says finance minister

Lim Guan Eng addresses a press conference in Putrajaya April 23, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Lim Guan Eng addresses a press conference in Putrajaya April 23, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, April 23 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today denied a claim that 4,500 acres of land will be given for free to a China-owned company in the new East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) contract.

This follows claims by fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin alleging that the new ECRL deal negotiated by Malaysia’s special envoy to China, Tun Daim Zainuddin — which will see the project’s price tag reduced to RM44 billion compared to RM65.5 billion — will include a trade off of 4,500 acres of land to be developed by China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC)

“I have not been informed that 4,500 acres have been given. I do not think that is correct because I think we are looking at the contract itself so if there is anything additional, I think you have to go through the Cabinet.

“So far I think we have not been informed that additional 4,500 acres of land have been given for free. I don’t think so but if it is paid then that’s a different question, but given for free, definitely not true,” he said to the press after witnessing the signing of an agreement for the Industrial Collaboration Program between the government of Malaysia and Bombardier Hartasuma Consortium at the Ministry of Finance here today.

Lim added that the full and official details of the new ECRL contract will be revealed soon.

In his blog, Raja Petra claimed that Daim had failed to mention the full details of the new deal and stated that the 4,500 acres of land were supposed to be developed by state-owned agencies instead of the CCCC.

Daim, who is also a former finance minister, had criticised the original ECRL agreement for its “shady conception, lack of transparency, lack of integrity, hasty approval, its vague details, its hefty cost, and the absence of accountability to the rakyat.”

He also revealed that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had gone against the advice of the Economic Planning Unit on the original deal.

The project was initially shelved after Pakatan Harapan ousted BN in the general election last year due to its high cost.