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Fighting for the big prize

  • The grand winner will soon be unveiled, and that is when all our doubts will get explained.

Sin Chew Daily

The government has yet to come up with an acceptable explanation since the the collapse of the Bandar Malaysia deal came to light. So, who has been telling the lies? Is it TRX City which unilaterally announced the cancellation of the sale? Or the IWH-CREC consortium claiming to have fulfilled all its payment obligations as per the agreement?

Without giving any forewarning, the finance ministry announced to call off the sale of Bandar Malaysia's 60% shares without offering any transparent and complete account on the developments and the latest follow-ups, making skepticism and guesses a natural development.

On the sale collapse

- TRX City accused IWH and CREC of non-fulfillment of their payment obligations.

- IWF-CREC rebutted TRX City's allegation as non-factual as they had already fulfilled all their required payment obligations.

- The reversal was made because of skyrocketing land prices.

- Lin Ganghe's company was unable to carry out the development project.

- The SSA lapse was the government's own decision, no external influences.

On China

- The Chinese government withdrew the investments in Malaysia.

- The Chinese government implemented capital control measures and did not permit real estate development in Bandar Malaysia.

- The Chinese government had not allowed CREC to invest overseas.

- Beijing was exerting pressure on Malaysia with a "shopping list" aimed at securing the KL-Singapore HSR contract and the right to own and operate the HSR terminal.

On Malaysia's domestic political needs

- Under the pressure from a "Malay tsunami" and responding to the accusations by Mahathir et al of the sale of the country's sovereignty to China, PM Najib took the initiative to ax the project.

- To uphold Ketuanan Melayu.

On the future of Bandar Malaysia

- Minister in the PM's Dept Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the government would invite companies with "far more attractive and comprehensive plans" to become Bandar Malaysia's master developers.

- Wanda Group of Wang Jianlin, China's richest entrepreneur, will team up with Tan Sri Desmond Lim's Malton Group and EPF to jointly bid for the Bandar Malaysia project.

- Upon denial by Malton Group, the Umno-owned New Straits Times subsequently reported, quoting sources, that the government had picked Wang's Wanda Group as the master developer of Bandar Malaysia without specifying the Malaysian partners in the consortium.

Already one week, but the prime minister, who is about to set off for the "One Belt One Road" forum in China, has yet to stand up and clear the doubts. It won't be a surprise if we have more conspiracy theories emerging from nowhere if this doubtful situation is allowed to persist.

It is learned that even the Beijing authorities have been taken aback by the sudden announcement from Malaysia.

Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang had to rush back from Geneva to get a clearer picture of this whole situation.

Malaysia and China have been enjoying very cordial relationship for so long. It is yet to be seen whether PM Najib would make use of his China trip to try to appease Beijing after this dramatic turnaround, before making a public announcement on his new solutions.

To China, the HSR project is a must-win contract, failing to secure which could deal a major blow on its "One Belt One Road" initiative.

As a matter of fact, CREC has been misled since the very beginning into believing that HSR contract is well within grips if they manage to clinch the Bandar Malaysia deal.

More importantly, not all in the government are happy to hand all the projects to China, some more inclined to award the HSR contract to the Japanese instead. Ironically, CREC's primary objective has been to secure the HSR contract, not Bandar Malaysia!

Japan has shown tremendous interest in the KL-Singapore HSR project slated for completion in 2026. During his recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, Japan's minister of land, transport, infrastructure and tourism Keiichi Ishii said his country would bid for the HSR contract citing its advantages in safety, performance, energy-efficiency and economic spinoffs.

From what we have learned, Najib's attitude towards HSR has been one of open tenders without any commitment to China or Japan. The lapse of Bandar Malaysia deal should perhaps give China an opportunity to pull out from Bandar Malaysia to concentrate on the bidding of HSR contract.

It is still premature to conclude now who the eventual beneficiaries of Najib's new solutions would be, as many consortia are vying for this grand prize.

The Wanda Group, which the Malaysian government is said to favor, is a private business conglomerate, and it will have to get past the government's capital control measures before it can gain access to Bandar Malaysia. On the contrary, CREC being a state-owned company whose investment entails the national interests of China, will not have to worry about this.

The grand winner will soon be unveiled, and that is when all our doubts will get explained.


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