A contributor with business publication Forbes has rained praise on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for daring to stand up to China when other world leaders didn’t.
Economist Panos Mourdoukoutas said this in reference to Putrajaya’s move to renegotiate the East Coast Rail Link project (ECRL) with China, reducing its cost from RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion.
“The trouble is that many of China’s infrastructure projects aren’t economically viable, as they are built at inflated costs and leave countries involved heavily indebted to Beijing.
“It’s this debt trap that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been trying to avoid. Back in August he cancelled the East Coast Rail Link project, forcing China back to the negotiating table.
“And he is winning, as evidenced by the new deal, which has cut the cost of the project substantially,” Mourdoukoutas, professor and chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University in Brookville, New York, wrote on Forbes.
In contrast, he said, Sri Lanka was left heavily indebted to China through projects such as the Hambantota port, Colombo Port City and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.
The Phillippines and Pakistan, he said, were also seeing similar costly mega-projects funded and built by China.
“Will Duterte (Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine president) and Imran Ahmed Khan (Pakistan prime minister) dare to do the same and save their countries from the fate of Sri Lanka? It remains to be seen,” Mourdoukoutas added. – Malaysiakini