KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Mohd Azmin Ali’s announcement that the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has been terminated received “shocked” reactions from his fellow Cabinet Minister and the opposition.
The Economic Affairs Minister said at an event earlier yesterday that the Cabinet had decided to cancel the ECRL because “the country could not afford the RM500mil annual interest on the project”.
At a separate event, Lim Guan Eng said he was shocked by Azmin’s announcement, saying that his colleague was not at the Cabinet meeting that made the decision based on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s intention.
“Azmin was not in the last Cabinet meeting. I am acting under the instruction of Tun and the Cabinet,” Lim told reporters.
However, the Finance Minister immediately backtracked: “Sorry, I wouldn’t say he (Azmin) wasn’t at the Cabinet meeting. What I meant is that he wasn’t privy to the decision made by Tun.”
When pressed to confirm whether Azmin attended the meeting or not, Lim said: “I don’t want to say that as it may lead to all kinds of unhealthy perceptions.
“All I want to say is that maybe he was not informed of the Prime Minister’s intention.”
An officer from Azmin’s department later confirmed that the minister did attend Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak also weighed in on the matter by posting on his Facebook page that the two ministers should have phoned each other.
“It is true that they do not have a WhatsApp group. However, the telephone has been around since 1876.
“Guan Eng, here is Azmin’s office number,” he wrote, adding the minister’s number.
“Azmin, here is Guan Eng’s office number ... at least call once in a while,” Najib posted.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong also poked fun at both ministers, saying that Jan 26 should now be Malaysia’s “Day of Shocks”, instead of Sept 3.
On that date last year, Lim’s lawyers, Dr Mahathir and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had issued statements that they were “shocked” over the Penang High Court’s decision to acquit Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Koon over the alleged conversion of land status and purchase of a bungalow below market value.
“Guan Eng is shocked over Azmin’s announcement. Well, I am shocked that senior ministers are having a war of words in the media.
“According to Guan Eng, Azmin did not attend the Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Such meetings are usually held on Wednesday, but how come it was held on Thursday?” Dr Wee posted on his Facebook page.
He asked if Dr Mahathir, who was overseas then, did not trust his deputy to chair the meeting.
Asked about the matter later, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin rebuked Najib, saying that Pakatan Harapan ministers did have their own WhatsApp group.