PUTRAJAYA (April 15): The resumption of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project following the signing of a supplementary agreement with China is no trade-off for fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho (pictured) or Jho Low reported to be in China, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Prime Minister said the Malaysian government would seek Chinese government assistance if Jho Low is really in China.
According to recent media reports, Jho Low, alleged to be behind the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, is believed to be in China and has also travelled recently to Hainan, Hong Kong and Beijing.
Besides Malaysia, Singapore and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation are also looking for Jho Low.
"But, of course, we will seek the help of the Chinese Government if he is in China," Dr Mahathir told a press conference on the ECRL project here today when asked if the ECRL agreement was signed in exchange for China to help locate Jho Low.
On the ECRL, Dr Mahathir said the new alignment would prioritise cultural, heritage and environmental factors by avoiding the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak, Selangor, the longest pure quartz dyke in the world at over 16-km long and 200 metres wide.
He said this would be done by avoiding the construction of the 17.8-km long Genting Tunnel from Bentong to Gombak.
"It is because of the structure of the mountains along the way. If we want to do that we will need to do a lot of tunnels and, also, the material there is more of silica that we can use for other purposes. So we don't want to disturb that deposit," he said.
On the overall ECRL alignment, Dr Mahathir said the proposed 640-km ECRL would run through 20 stations from Kota Bahru through Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Mentakab and proceed to Jelebu, Bangi/Kajang, Putrajaya Sentral and to Port Klang.
Therefore, he said, it would now pass through five states and Putrajaya from the previous four states, allowing more states to partake in the economic benefits of the improved deal.
"The new southern alignment will also provide a direct land link from Kuantan Port to Port Klang, serving as a land bridge between the two ports,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the new alignment would leverage on the existing KL International Airport (KLIA) Express Rail Link (ERL) as well as the future Mass Rapid Transit 2 Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP) Line with an interchange in Putrajaya Sentral.
"This will improve passenger connectivity to other parts of the peninsula’s west coast as well as provide a direct link to KLIA," he said.
"This is a significant improvement to the single interchange via LRT (Light Rail Transit) at the ITT (Integrated Transport Terminal) Gombak as per the previous arrangement," he said.
Dr Mahathir said passengers on the existing KTM Komuter service and Electric Train Service (ETS) from the southern part of the peninsula would interchange with the ECRL at the planned ECRL Bangi/Kajang station.