Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (right) with Royal Customs Department director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy (2nd-right) during the 37th International Customs Day celebration in Kelana Jaya. -NSTP/NUR ADIBAH AHMAD IZAM

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he was shocked by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s announcement on the status of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

He said Azmin may not have been updated on the decision made by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Speaking at a press conference here hours after the announcement, Lim initially said Azmin was not in the last Cabinet meeting.

“Datuk Seri Azmin was not in the last cabinet meeting.

“I am acting under the instruction of Tun (Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ) and the cabinet,” he said.

Asked if any decision had been made on the project, he said a “statement will be issued next week, if necessary.”

However, Lim then clarified on Azmin’s attendance at the cabinet meeting by saying:

“Sorry, I wouldn’t say that Azmin wasn’t in the cabinet meeting.

“What I meant is that he wasn’t privy to the decision made by Tun.

“Anyway a statement will be issued subject to the instruction by Tun.”

Asked to confirm whether Azmin had attended the cabinet meeting, Lim said:

“I don’t want to say that as it may lead to all kind of unhealthy perception.

“All I want to say is that maybe he was not informed of the prime minister’s intention.”

Lim’s statement came hours after Azmin announced that the government has decided to cancel the RM81 billion ECRL project with contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC).

He said the decision was taken as the country could not afford the high interest linked to the project.

He said the cabinet decided to scrap the project during its meeting on Thursday.

“This is the final decision.

"It was decided that the cost to develop ECRL is too high, and we don’t have the financial capability to see it through at this moment.

“If this project is not cancelled, the interest that the government would have to pay reaches nearly half a billion ringgit,” he said.

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