World

Dr M: Jho Low not part of East Coast Rail Link talks with China

PETALING JAYA: Locating fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low was not part of renegotiations with China on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, said Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"It had nothing to do with Mr Jho Low. But of course we will seek the help of the Chinese government if he is at all in China," Dr Mahathir told reporters at a press conference announcing the resumption of the ECRL project yesterday.

He was asked if the successful renegotiation with China was linked to Low and the possibility of him being tracked down.

"It is not directly related but we are taking advantage of the signing of agreement to work out (the) purchase of palm oil from China," he said.

After long and protracted negotiations between Malaysia and China, both parties reached a mutually beneficial agreement, the improved ECRL deal, Dr Mahathir said.

He said the cost had been reduced to RM44 billion (S$14.5 billion) from RM66 billion, a 32.8 per cent reduction in cost.

The construction cost is now RM68 million for every kilometre, from RM98 million originally.

On the issue that the initial cost of the ECRL project was inflated by the previous administration to bail out debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad, Dr Mahathir said yes.

He noted that the Barisan Nasional government had given out the project to a company through direct negotiations and a lump sum payment, resulting in a high cost. He said: "Had the project been handed out in the usual manner, we would have got a better price." - THE STAR

WORLD