According to our Transport Minister, the ECRL does not and will not belong to China and that it will be self-sustaining, high in demand, and good for local economies.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong has come out and squashed unwanted speculations about the ECRL, including the rumour that the ownership of assets and lands along the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) alignment will be transferred to China.
Through the Ministry of Transport's official Facebook page, Wee assertively said that certain parties had been spreading slander on the ECRL project as part of a 'malicious propaganda'.
ECRL assets are 100% owned by the Malaysian government
"ECRL assets are 100 percent owned by the Malaysian government through MRL (Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd), and land along the ECRL line is a non-transferable railway reserve."
"The project repayment plan to the Chinese government-owned banks also does not involve the transfer of ECRL assets or land along the ECRL alignment".
"The repayment plan to the government-owned Bank of China for projects also does not involve the transfer of ECRL assets or lands."
"It must be stressed here that MRL is the owner of the ECRL project and assets, while China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) is the main contractor."
ECRL malicious propaganda
"On the alleged ownership or primary owner of this infrarakyat project, I see this allegation as malicious propaganda as narrated by some parties who were also responsible for the rumours regarding the Forest City development project, a joint venture of Proton-Geely. In their narrative, foreign countries control Malaysian assets, national assets are mortgaged, and national sovereignty is invaded."
"This is not only slander, but also tarnishes Malaysia's image in the eyes of the world community, the worse it erodes the confidence of foreign investors to invest in Malaysia."
Wee also took the chance to clear up some other allegations regarding the project, including fare rate, ECRL cargo and passenger traffic projections, and ECRL's possible returns and economic impact.
ECRL ticket prices will be the same as existing train fare
"Once again, I emphasize that the ECRL fare rate will be equivalent to the existing train fare rate regulated by the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD), an agency under the Ministry of Transport Malaysia. Based on the existing fare, it is very affordable and people-friendly."
"Regarding the ECRL cargo and passenger traffic projections, it has been studied by a certified consultant who has the expertise to collect data and conduct studies to formulate the traffic projections. Through data collected, the ECRL is able to generate high passenger and cargo traffic as it passes through heavy industrial areas and manufacturing hubs connected to the country's major ports."
ECRL rail link
"Apart from that, passenger services are also showing high demand given the range that passes through major cities on the East Coast."
"There is a long-term plan to generate sufficient revenue to cover the company’s operating costs. Any profits from MRL’s train operations and ancillary businesses will be able to be used to repay part of the ECRL project loan liabilities."
Will the ECRL be profitable?
"The cost of cargo transportation to and from the East Coast is projected to decrease up to 40%-50%. This will increase the competitiveness of the East Coast states and create more new industries that are expected to generate revenue through the ECRL".
Wee said that his factual statements would probably not change the perception of some parties who have wandered off far from reality. His explanation is all based on facts, and he is trying to explain things as clearly as possible so that everyone can understand.
The 665km long ECRL is scheduled for completion in 2026 and will pass through East Coast states such as Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang before connecting the Klang Valley to the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The ECRL will reduce travel time and connect Kota Bharu to Gombak within 4 hours.