Amidst deciding the future of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad chose former Finance Minister Tun Abdul Daim Zainuddin to lead the negotiations with China, which will involve the benefits, costs, and effects of the project.
During a Dewan Rakyat session on March 20, Tun Mahathir explained the reasons Tun Daim was chosen instead of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng; a person who leads the negotiations must be acceptable by China. It was reported that Tun Daim has a good relationship and reputation with China.
Besides, Tun Daim was also chosen because of his abilities, experiences and expertise.
When asked to comment on the appointment of Tun Daim as the chairman of Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), Guan Eng admitted that he was grateful.
Nevertheless, the negotiations will be time consuming as the special envoy has to take seven-hour flights back and forth to Beijing until a final decision is achieved. Thus, Guan Eng agreed that he would not be suitable for the job even if he were to be chosen.
“We got the best person for the job,” said Guan Eng as quoted in Malaymail.
As an update on the negotiations, Tun Daim recently announced that China has offered to cut the cost up to RM 10 billion.
Although critics said that the announcement was “too vague” since there was no further explanation made by Tun Daim, he is positive that the question mark hanging over the rail link may be answered on April 2, after the project is finalized by both Malaysia and China government.
Tun Mahathir suspended the ECRL project back in July last year after reviewing the total cost of the project for the possibility of trapping Malaysia with billions of debts with China.