MALAYSIA's newly-elected government has
suspended US$22 billion in China-backed infrastructure projects while it
probes Chinese financing and alleged links to 1MDB, Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund.
The suspension includes the East Coast Rail Link from Malaysia's east coast to Thailand's southern region and two pipeline projects, reports London's Financial Times.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad,
aged 92, returned to office in May after 15 years away, after defeating
Najib Razak, has already questioned approved Belt and Road projects
that are now subject to review, objecting to their realisation appearing
to necessitate the presence of Chinese military forces.
"We would not like to see too many warships in this area, because
warships attract other warships, and this place may become tense because
of the presence of warships," said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The contractors commissioned for the project - China Communication
Construction Company and China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau - received the
instructions to suspend operations from Malaysia's government-run
Malaysia Rail Link, which cited excessive costs among its reasons.
While construction is halted the Chinese financing of the project will
be investigated for suspicious connections with 1MDB, which has been a
focus of the current administration's criticism of former Prime Minister
Najib Rajak, who has been detained on suspicion of corruption.