Daim visits Beijing as Malaysia slashes costs

China is willing to work with Malaysia to strengthen their relationship


Tun Daim Zainuddin (picture) met China’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi in Beijing yesterday, as the chairman of the Council of Eminent Person is widely believed to be trying to resolve matters related to deals inked with China.

According to a statement issued by China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, both nations have a long, friendly and comprehensive relationship.

China is willing to work with Malaysia to strengthen their relationship and deepen the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) cooperation, increase the mutual benefit cooperation, as well as strengthen coordination, and cooperation in international and regional affairs for the benefit of the people from both countries, said Wang.

Daim said the two countries and their citizens have a friendly relationship.

The former minister who is heading the council said the new Malaysian government attaches great importance on the relationship with China and fully supports the OBOR initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping.

He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been active in developing the relationship with China and he is looking forward to the visit to the world’s second- largest economy.

It was recently reported that Daim would visit Beijing to resolve issues related to deals inked with China — especially the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and two gas pipeline projects under Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd.

Both projects, which are financed by Beijing, have now been suspended.

The government had announced the suspension of the ECRL project, and the Multi-Product Pipeline and the Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline.

Malaysia wants to renegotiate the deals, which Putrajaya viewed as being lopsided and too expensive for the country to bankroll.

Both deals were signed by the former government.

The cost of the ECRL had ballooned to RM81 billion compared to RM55 billion initially announced by the previous government.

The newly-led Pakatan Harapan government is revising projects, renegotiating contracts and reducing the sizes of some initiatives as part of managing the country’s finance which has been hit by excessive spending.

China has demanded that Malaysia should honour its past contracts.

Dr Mahathir will visit China next month. The various agreements signed by the previous government with Beijing are expected to be discussed during the visit. — TMR