PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia welcomes China’s participation in its mega projects but will give priority to local companies in such developments, said the Prime Minister.
Asked how he views China-backed mega projects, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he saw no problem with this.
“If there are mega projects that we can give to the Chinese, we will. But our policy is to award mega projects to Malaysian companies.
“If they don’t have the expertise, they can call in foreign companies to join them,” he said at a press conference on the resumption of the East Coast Rail Link project yesterday.
The Prime Minister said that the Chinese government was willing to renegotiate the terms of projects because it understood Malaysia’s financial position.
“I believe China also realises that we are facing financial problems and that the cost that was previously agreed upon was too high.
“We have also managed to prove that we can construct the railway at a lower cost. So this is why the Chinese government has agreed to our request,” he said.
On whether these new terms come with a deal to locate fugitive businessman Jho Low, Dr Mahathir replied in the negative.
“It has nothing to do with Mr Jho Low but of course we will seek the help of the Chinese government if at all he is in China,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said that Malaysia would take advantage of renegotiations to work out more palm oil exports to China.
Dr Mahathir also did not confirm whether the original project was inflated to bail out 1MDB.
“We suspect that was what happened because the price was so high, yet we are able to reduce it by RM22bil. Had the project been tendered out in the usual manner, we would have gotten a better price,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said the government had decided that the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline project, which was also suspended along with ECRL last July, would not be constructed.
TSGP involves building a 662km gas pipeline from Kimanis to Sandakan and Tawau costing about RM4.06bil.