In an attempt to reduce Malaysia’s US$250 billion national debt, the country’s newly elected Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad said on Monday that he will scrap multibillion-dollar Chinese-backed infrastructure projects initiated by his predecessor Najib Razak under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press published on Monday, the Malaysian Prime Minister said China-backed projects like the gas pipelines and the rail link along the country’s peninsular eastern coast as unviable.
The East Coast Rail Link is estimated to cost US$20 billion and the combined cost of two pipeline projects is worth close to US$2 billion.
“ We don't think we need those two projects. We don't think they are viable. So if we can, we would like to just drop the projects," Mahathir said. He also added that if scrapping the projects completely is not feasible, Malaysia may put the projects on the back burner until the future, “where perhaps the need will arise”.
The nonagenarian Prime Minister, who pulled off a surprise electoral victory in the recent election, also warned against any further militarisation of the South China Sea and made a call for warships not to be permanently stationed there.
During his tenure in office, the previous prime minister forged a close relationship with China. Beijing views Malaysia as a key part of its ambitious OBOR initiative.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.