KUALA LUMPUR (August 24): Calling their plight “regrettable”, Ketari state assemblyman Young Syefura Othman said the government should ensure the welfare of the nearly 2,000 retrenched East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) workers, and rehabilitate the sites that had previously been earmarked for the project.
The Malay Mail reports that she said she accepted the government’s decision to call the project off, but noted the ECRL may have been beneficial to the surrounding areas.
“The government must be aware that the cancellation of this project has affected nearly 2,000 workers who have lost their livelihoods.
“What’s more regrettable, is that it is estimated that more than 1,000 workers comprise of Malaysians and Bentong natives themselves,” she said in a statement, as cited by the daily.
She noted that in Genting and Bentong, work on the ECRL had reached 14% completion, and involved the clearing of a forest area, and preparation for railway and tunnel.
“If these construction sites are left idle after termination, the project will have adverse effects on the environment, and may result in future catastrophes.
“The government must be aware that after the cancellation of a huge project such as the ECRL, there are important steps which must be enforced too, especially those linked to impacts on the economy, social and environment,” she said.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced two days ago that China has agreed to cancel the ECRL and two gas pipeline projects due to the risk that Malaysia could go bankrupt in funding them.
Malaysia will have to pay a compensation for the cancellation, which is still under negotiations.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has previously stated that the company responsible for hiring the workers for the ECRL must be the one responsible for their compensation and subsequent placements.