The Latest: Mahathir says he would halt, review China loans
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — The Latest from an Associated Press interview with Malaysian opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad (all times local):
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Malaysia will stop borrowing from China and review Chinese investments if his opposition grouping is elected in May 9 polls.
Mahathir warned in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that Malaysia has borrowed a large amount of money from China and may not be able to repay it. He noted that Sri Lanka had to give China ownership of a port and other projects in return for debt relief.
“We feel that we will stop borrowing. We will try to renegotiate the terms of the borrowing. In the case of projects, we may have to study whether we would continue or we would slow down or we would renegotiate the terms,” he added.
Chinese investment in Malaysia includes the East Coast Rail Link project with an estimated cost of 55 billion ringgit ($14.1 billion), and a massive real estate project in southern Johor state.
Former Malaysian strongman Mahathir Mohamad says a wave of change is evident among rural ethnic Malays and a 30 percent swing from the bloc’s traditional support for the government would be enough to secure the opposition victory in next month’s elections.
Mahathir told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that Malay support for the opposition has made an obvious increase, citing huge turnout at rallies.
The nonagenarian Mahathir led Malaysia for 22 years before stepping down in 2003 and is now leading a four-party opposition coalition to oust scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak in May 9 polls.
Still, Mahathir predicted only a 50/50 chance of victory for the opposition “because of the government tendency to cheat, to threaten people, to use money, to even block the election process.”