PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today confirmed reports that Malaysia is cancelling the RM81 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), following conflicting statements from two of his Cabinet members on the China-led project.

“Sometimes, ministers make an announcement before it is due,” he told reporters today.

“The finance minister will give a clear explanation soon as to what happened.”

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali had both issued conflicting statements on the project.

Azmin said the government had terminated China Communications Construction Group Ltd as the project’s contractor, while Lim said an official decision had yet to be made.

Mahathir today said the project was a burden to the government, and cancelling it was a better alternative despite the huge compensation it would have to pay.

“It is not that we do not want to honour our contracts. We just cannot pay.

“These contracts will cost us more than RM100 billion. It will impoverish us, so we seek the understanding of the parties concerned. We are really tied in terms of finances,” he said. – BERNAMA