Wednesday 19 June 2019 ,
Wednesday 19 June 2019 ,
Latest News
  • 64 Bangladeshis among 75 migrants stuck off Tunisia agree to go home: NGO
  • Ex-MP Rana gets bail in double murder case
  • Survey shows Bangladesh, Rwanda have highest levels of trust in vaccines
  • Handmade, reusable shopping bags bring new hopes for Satkhira’s disadvantaged women
  • World Cup: England beat Afghanistan by 150 runs; scores: England 397-6, Afghanistan 247-8
19 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 June, 2018 10:16:47 PM
Print

Malaysia power shift hits China infrastructure drive

AFP
Malaysia power shift hits 
China infrastructure drive
A May 10 File photo shows former Malaysian prime minister and opposition candidate Mahathir Mohamad (center) celebrating with other leaders of his coalition during a press conference following the 14th general elections in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia had been a loyal partner in China’s globe-spanning infrastructure drive but a new government is now pledging to review Beijing-backed projects, threatening key links in the much-vaunted initiative. AFP Photo

Malaysia was once a loyal partner in China's globe-spanning infrastructure drive but a new government is now pledging to review Beijing-backed projects, threatening key links in the much-vaunted initiative, reports AFP from Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur's previous regime, led by scandal-mired Najib Razak, had warm ties with China and signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects, including a major rail link and a deep-sea port.

But the long-ruling coalition was unexpectedly turfed out of power last month by voters disgusted at allegations of corruption and angered at rising living costs.

Critics say many agreements lacked transparency, fuelling suspicions they were struck in exchange for help in paying off debts from a financial scandal which ultimately helped bring down Najib's regime.

The new government, led by political heavyweight Mahathir Mohamad, has pledged to review Chinese deals seen as dubious, calling into question Malaysia's status as one of Beijing's most cooperative partners in its infrastructure push.

China's ambitious initiative to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways -- dubbed "One Belt, One Road" -- was launched in 2013 and is the economic crown jewel of President Xi Jinping's presidency.

Malaysia, along with Beijing ally Cambodia, were seen as bright spots in Southeast Asia, with projects in other countries often facing problems, from land acquisition to drawn-out negotiations with governments.

"Malaysia under Najib moved quickly to approve and implement projects," Murray Hiebert, a senior associate from think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP.

Chinese foreign direct investment into Malaysia stood at just 0.8 percent of total net FDI inflows in 2008, but that figure had risen to 14.4 percent by 2016, according to a study from Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

However, Hiebert said it was "widely assumed" that Malaysia was striking quick deals with China in the hope of getting help to cover debts from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Najib and his cronies were accused of stealing huge sums of public money from the investment vehicle in a massive fraud. Public disgust at the allegations -- denied by Najib and 1MDB -- helped topple his government.

Malaysia's first change of government in six decades has left Najib facing a potential jail term -- and appears to have already unsettled Beijing's plans in the country.

New prime minister Mahathir has announced a planned high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and neighbouring Singapore will not go ahead as he seeks to reduce the country's huge national debt.

The project was in its early stages and had not yet received any Chinese funding as part of "One Belt, One Road".

But Chinese companies were favoured to build part of the line, which would have constituted a link in a high-speed route from China's Yunnan province to trading hub Singapore, along which Chinese goods could have been transported for export.

Work has already started in Malaysia on another line seen as part of that route, and which had received Chinese funding -- the $14-billion East Coast Rail Link, running from close to the Thai border to a port near Kuala Lumpur.

Mahathir has said that agreement is now being renegotiated.

Other Chinese-funded initiatives include a deep-sea port in Malacca, near important shipping routes, and an enormous industrial park.

It is not clear yet which projects will be changed or cancelled but experts believe axing some will be positive.

Alex Holmes, Asia economist for Capital Economics, backed cancelling

some initiatives, citing "Malaysia's weak fiscal position and that some of the projects are of dubious economic value".

The Chinese foreign ministry did not respond to request for comment.

But a recent commentary in China's Global Times, a nationalist state-run tabloid, warned Mahathir if he damaged the interests of Chinese companies, they had the right to seek compensation.

"The Chinese government will also take concrete measures to safeguard the interests and rights of Chinese enterprises," it said.

Adding to China's woes, Mahathir has a clear preference for Beijing's rival Japan, and last week went to Tokyo for his first foreign trip since taking office.

During the visit, the 92-year-old signalled ties with Beijing would cool: "We will be friendly with China, but we do not want to be indebted to China."

 

 

Comments

Poll
Today's Question »
State minister for power Nasrul Hamid yesterday said everyone to have access to electricity by June. Do you think the feat achievable by the timeframe?
 Yes
 No
 No Comment
Yes 49.7%
No 46.2%
No Comment 4.1%
Most Viewed
Digital Edition
Archive
SunMonTueWedThuFri Sat
01
02030405060708
09101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30

Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
....................................................
About Us
....................................................
Contact Us
....................................................
Advertisement
....................................................
Subscription

Powered by : Frog Hosting