Putrajaya’s failure to secure any form of commitment from China’s Dalian Wanda group to develop Bandar Malaysia showed that Chinese nationals were wary of Malaysia, said Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.
Lim said the non-committal stance by Dalian Wanda’s founder Wang Jianlin during Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s present visit to Beijing was proof of this.
“Perhaps the Najib administration hasn’t heard of ‘once bitter, twice shy’. How many times do they expect to fool China’s business community with the controversial Bandar Malaysia project?” asked Lim in a statement today.
He said Wang is perhaps worried that any deal with Putrajaya would meet the same fate as the botched Iskandar Waterfront Holdings-China Railway Engineering Corporation (IWH-CREC) deal.
“Moreover, the Dalian Wanda group is among the biggest conglomerates in the world and they have no reason to get involved with the Bandar Malaysia project, which is linked to the 1MDB scandal,” he said.
The Bandar Malaysia project, spanning approximately 200ha, is located at the former Sungai Besi airport and was envisioned as a modern financial and tech district.
The Najib administration sold the land to 1MDB for a song in 2010. The company, now saddled with billions in debt, is trying to sell off parcels of the land to address its repayment woes.
IWH-CREC entered a deal to develop Bandar Malaysia, but the deal was cancelled by Putrajaya early this month, despite the consortium having paid more than RM700 million as deposit.
Indication of ‘desire’
Following this, Singapore’s Straits Times began speculating that Putrajaya wants Dalian Wanda to come on board and Najib’s delegation was sent to Beijing to ink a deal.
However, during a press conference with Najib, Wang stated there was no deal yet and did not explicitly state that his company was interested.
Najib told reporters that the purpose of his visit to Beijing was for Dalian Wanda to “indicate their desire and our willingness to discuss with them”.
Media spin slammed
In a related development, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua took a local Chinese daily to task over a front page report claiming that Wang will invest in Bandar Malaysia.
“Media spin is when a newspaper decides to change or frame the perception of the readers with a simple headline, despite there being nothing in the story.
“Even a perfunctory non-committal memorandum of understanding (MOU) was not signed.
“Najib has walked away empty-handed from Dalian Wanda in Beijing,” wrote Pua on Facebook.
Pua said the daily’s headline was misleading at best.