PUTRAJAYA: Cabinet ministers have been issued a gag order to stop making statements about the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) while negotiations are ongoing about the project.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the matter was discussed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting where it was decided that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be the one to speak on the matter.
“This is a G2G (government to government) discussion. Due to its sensitivity, it should be held away from public glare or the spotlight.
“And no other ministers are allowed to make any statements on the matter, but the prime minister,” Lim told a press conference yesterday.
Lim said that a time frame had been set for the negotiation process but he declined to reveal it.
On Tuesday, Dr Mahathir said that no final decision had been made about the ECRL project as negotiations were still underway.
He said some decisions were made but the government was looking to find a better solution.
Dr Mahathir had also said that Malaysia was seeking an understanding from all parties as the government had to cut back some of the expenditure incurred by the previous administration.
It has been reported that the government is looking for a new contractor after allegedly terminating the contract awarded to China Communications Construction Company Ltd to build the RM81bil mega rail project.
Meanwhile, Lim said the government would be receiving its first payment from funds that were embezzled by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
“It is not much, not in its billions, but it’s a good start. I hope this will be followed by more and more money returned to us,” he said.
He declined to reveal what the payment was for or when it would be made.
On another matter, Lim shot back at those who questioned the MySalam insurance scheme for the B40 group.
“Those who are in the B40 group will receive RM8,000 if they suffer from critical illness and up to RM700 if hospitalised in a government hospital.
“This scheme is given for free. We agree the amount reimbursed does not cover the entire medical costs, but at least there is something. Before this, you get nothing at all,” said Lim.
At a ceremony earlier, he presented a cheque for RM20mil to Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail for the “Buy Malaysian Goods” campaign.
The campaign, meant to strengthen the domestic economy, is one of the allocations from Budget 2019.