Chinese ECRL & Pipeline Projects Cancelled – Mahathir Hints That Najib Could Face More Charges

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Aug 22 2018
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Depending on whom you ask, Mahathir’s visit to China – his first since becoming Malaysia’s prime minister for the second time, and the world’s oldest premier – can either be a huge success or a failure. The primary mission of PM’s five-day visit to the Middle Kingdom was to renegotiate mega deals signed by his predecessor, protégé-turned-nemesis Najib Razak.


That two mega projects – the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the construction of two gas pipelines – have now been cancelled, announced Mahathir Mohamad. When former premier Najib announced his pet project ECRL, it was unveiled that it would cost taxpayers RM55 billion for the entire 688-km line. The nightmare started after Mr. Najib lost the 14th general election on May 9th.


When the new Pakatan Harapan government revealed that the final cost of the ECRL project is actually jaw-dropping RM81 billion (US$20 billion; £15.4 billion), it raises eyebrows. But it was just the beginning. Well hidden amongst so-called “red-files”, the new Ministry of Finance later discovered – after weeks of digging – that Najib had stolen more than anyone can imagine.

East Coast Railway Link - ECRL - Train

The two gas pipelines – a RM5.35 billion (US$1.3 billion; £1 billion) oil pipeline connecting the towns of Malacca and Port Dickson to Jitra in northern Peninsula Malaysia, and a RM4.06 billion (US$1 billion; £760 million) gas pipeline in the state of Sabah, linking the Kimanis Gas Terminal to the cities of Sandakan and Tawau – would cost the country another RM9.41 billion.


Both ECRL and gas pipelines were awarded to China-backed companies by Najib son of Razak. Amazingly, RM8.3 billion had been paid in the case of the gas pipelines project, constituting 88% of total project value despite only 13% work completion. Eventually, ECRL project was suspended in early July pending Mahathir’s renegotiation deal with China.


Now that Mahathir has announced that both RM81 billion ECRL and RM9.41 billion gas pipelines projects have been cancelled, some have argued that his visit to China has been a diplomatic disaster. After all, his mission was to renegotiate a better deal with China but has ended with cancellation of the two mega projects instead, suggesting that he has failed to convince the Chinese.

Red Files - Najib Razak Pipeline Projects with China - 1MDB Scandal

From the beginning, it was a mission impossible for Mr. Mahathir to convince economic superpower China to take a hit and probably lower the overall cost of the mega projects. Why should Beijing even consider a renegotiation in the first place, when the deals were signed willingly between two countries without a gun being put to anybody’s head?


Heck, it was Mahathir who supported and pushed Najib to become Malaysia’s 6th Prime Minister. Sure, the old man had no idea that the son of Razak was nothing but a crook and scumbag who wouldn’t think twice about raping and plundering the country’s coffers to dry. But was it China’s problem that Mahathir had chosen wrongly and Najib had sold his country cheaply to the Chinese?


For Beijing to agree to Kuala Lumpur’s new terms of the contracts already signed will mean an admission that China has been colluding and conspiring with ex-PM Najib Razak from the beginning. Chinese President Xi Jinping will undoubtedly lose face at the critical time when his country is at trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump.


Nope, Trump cannot be allowed the privilege to tweet and insult China as a nation not only steals IP properties but also a corrupt nation having bribed Thief-in-Chief Najib Razak. Besides, who is Malaysia to tell China that a deal must be renegotiated when not even world’s biggest economy and military superpower United States could intimidate the Chinese?


More importantly, agreeing to a renegotiation will open the floodgate whereby other countries trapped in debts over China’s OBOR (One Belt, One Road) initiative will stage the same stunt – demanding renegotiation. Did Mahathir not know about Beijing’s refusal to a renegotiation after his special advisor Daim Zainuddin was sent earlier to deliver his letter to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang?


Of course Mahathir knew that. But China is too important a nation for 93-year-old Mahathir to offend. Likewise, Malaysia is also too important a partner in Southeast Asia for Emperor Xi Jinping to insult. Kuala Lumpur is Beijing’s largest trading partner in the region after Malaysia-China bilateral transactions rose as much as 28% to RM139.2 billion in 2017’s first half.


Still, unlike ex-PM Najib who preferred sucking up to President Xi, Beijing has learned that the 93-year-old Mahathir is a hard nut to crack. Mahathir courageously stood up to China. During a Monday news conference with Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Mahathir thanked China for agreeing to increase imports of specialty agricultural products, such as frozen durian.


But even as he welcomed the agreements, Mahathir courageously warned that wealthy countries should not use their riches to take advantage of less developed nations, apparently aimed at China, saying – “There is a new version of colonialism happening because poor countries are unable to compete with rich countries just in terms of open free trade. It must also be fair trade.”


Mr. Mahathir has also courted Japan, arguably China’s arch-rival in the region, in what appears to be a clever strategic move to send a message to the Chinese that Malaysia has very wealthy friends elsewhere. His shift away from China has also given an opportunity to the United States who is worried at Beijing’s growing regional clout and building of islands in the South China Sea.

Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad Meets Chinese President Xi Jinping and Wives

Anyway, renegotiation was off the table before even Mahathir flew to China. What the Chinese probably agrees is for the controversial projects to be cancelled. However, Malaysia has to pay compensations, which according to Mahathir will be extremely substantial because thanks to Najib, those projects have “no exit clause”.


In actuality, it’s still too early to tell if the ECRL and gas pipelines have indeed been cancelled, or just merely being postponed. “The projects will not go on. At the moment, the priority is reducing our debt … it will be deferred until such time when we can afford, then maybe we will reduce the cost,” – Mahathir said before his departure for Kuala Lumpur.


Mahathir said the projects could not go on due to Malaysia’s financial woes. “China understands our problem and agreed,” – Mahathir said. However, details of the cancellation, including matters such as compensation isn’t clear. He said – “If we have to pay compensation, we have to pay. This is the stupidity of the negotiations before.”

Mahathir Slams Najib Stupidity

The fact that Mahathir has repeatedly slammed his predecessor Najib Razak’s “stupidity” for endorsing the deals in the first place shows the premier is absolutely mad at his predecessor. On how Malaysia could expect to recover the huge sums of money, Mr. Mahathir said maybe “we can recover from Najib. He was the one after all who signed. What kind of stupidity is this?”


Now, what does the furious Mahathir meant when he said the huge sums can be recovered from Najib? The son of Razak may be looking at a bigger pile of shit. Mahathir and his Chinese counterpart could have agreed to cooperate – quietly for obvious reason – to trace and recover money stolen by Najib so that the projects could be revived at a later stage under new terms.


This also means Mr. Najib could be looking at more charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of power in the ECRL and gas pipelines projects. With so many layers of such charges slapped, or to be slapped, it’s hard to imagine how the former premier could walk away scot free. Mahathir is absolutely determined to ensure Najib is sent to jail.

Najib Razak - Prison - Don't Drop The Soap


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