KUALA LUMPUR: A review of the East-Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is needed, following new developments in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case.
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in a sworn statement by a prosecution witness in the case, it was revealed that the project was proposed to China to bail out debt-ridden 1MDB.
“The ECRL (project) is ongoing. It does not matter whether I agree or disagree with the development of the project.
“However, there are new developments (in Najib’s court case) to provide room for the government to conduct further negotiations on the (cost of) the project.
“In a sworn statement (of a witness in Najib’s case), it was stated that a portion from the cost of the project would be used to settle the debts by 1MDB,” he told reporters after attending a seminar on ‘Economy, Poverty and Gaps in Malaysia: Definition and Implementation’ organised by the parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance here today.
It was reported in the High Court that ECRL, Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP) and Multi-Product Pipeline (MPP) were projects proposed to China to bail out debt-ridden 1MDB and its former subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd.
The High Court was also told that Najib and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, had planned to get Chinese government-linked companies (GLCs) to invest in the projects, subsequently taking up 1MDB and SRC International’s debts.
The matter was revealed by Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who was then Najib’s special officer. He is one of the witnesses testifying in the case.
Anwar, who is the chairman of the independent body, was also asked if the ECRL project could stimulate economic growth in East Coast states.
“Infrastructure projects are meant to boost the economy. Having that said, I do not wish to elaborate further about a project which has taken off. My concern is the cost involved to carry out the project,” he replied.
Earlier, former Council of Eminent Persons member Prof Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, who was one of the speakers at the seminar, said the Pakatan Harapan government should stop from continuing investments in developments projects under the previous administration that are deemed corrupt.
In his presentation, he named the ECRL as one such project.
Jomo proposed for the government in its fiscal policies to invest in development programmes to help address hardcore poverty issues in the country instead.
Kelantan-born Prof Datuk Dr. Mohammad Agus Yusoff, who was among attendees at the seminar, disagreed with Jomo that the ECRL project would not benefit the country.
He said states in the East Coast as well as its people will benefit from the economic spill-over from the ECRL project.