Report: Malaysia-China ties ‘reset’ after mega infrastructure projects halted

14-Jul-2018 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Malaysia and China’s ties are set for a “reset” following Putrajaya’s move to review Chine-backed mega infrastructure projects, reported Financial Times.

The news agency reported that following the ousting of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the newly installed government has already suspended some $23billion (RM93 billion) worth of China-backed projects.

Quoting Finance minister Lim Guan Eng, the report detailed that in revisiting these projects, it may help Malaysia claw back some much-needed cash, up to RM10 billion.

This is at a time where the country reintroduced fuel subsidies and scrapped an unpopular goods and services tax (GST) that would leave a RM20.7 billion hole in government revenue this year.

It was said that reassessing mega-projects launched under the previous administration is at the heart of the new Pakatan Harapan government in their plan to slash public spending.

All this while enforcing better corporate governance and probing transactions related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the scandal-tainted investment fund set up by Najib.

The report added that Lim, as Finance minister, was at the forefront of Malaysia’s efforts to recover assets and uncover corruption related to 1MDB.

“(The) web of intrigue and deceit of 1MDB has ensnared many companies from all over the world. It is an incredible web. I think even Spider-Man probably deferred to them,” Lim was quoted in the report.

The report also claimed the review of mega projects left the Sino-Malaysian relations in slight uncertainty, with the tightening of the pursestrings also irking southern neighbours Singapore.

It claimed the suspension of projects had also cast a spotlight on Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“It is the first time a south-east Asian country of Malaysia’s stature has pushed back so vocally against China’s international infrastructure ambitions, a move that could galvanise others to do the same,” the report detailed.

It added however, this would not be the first time China faced opposition of huge and expensive infrastructure projects overseas, after Myanmar suspended the Beijing-backed Myitsone dam following elections in 2010.

Additionally, according to the report, senior Malaysian government officials are expected to visit China in the coming week to negotiate terms of the halted projects, adding that prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expect to make a visit there in August.

It also cited a meeting between Dr Mahathir and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma in June, saying the meeting gave analysts hope for ties between the two countries.


Category: China

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