PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, the project and asset owner of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), has denied that contracts it signed with Chinese contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and the Export-Import Bank of China came with a clause to nominate an unrelated company to buy 70% of Putrajaya Perdana Bhd for US$244 million (RM971 million) as well as 90% of Loh & Loh Corp Bhd for US$71 million (RM282.6 million). In a statement released today, MRL called the information in an article in a business weekly headlined "Jho Low's Handiwork" baseless and an irresponsible allegation. The article sought to establish links between Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and the negotiations for Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd's RM9.4 billion pipeline projects and the ECRL among others. Putrajaya Perdana and Loh & Loh are companies linked to Jho Low. "There is no contract between and MRL that stipulates this clause. Neither does this clause appear in the loan agreement between MRL and the Export-Import Bank of China." "As the project owner of the 688km ECRL, the inaccurate information presented in the said article potentially ruins the reputation of MRL and its cordial relationship with CCCC, the main contractor of the project. As such, MRL urges the media to engage with its Corporate Communications Department to verify information with regard to the ECRL project," it said. MRL went on to explain that the long overdue ECRL infrastructure project was done based on a government-to-government agreement. It mooted the setting up of a special purpose vehicle company to oversees its implementation. MRL was incorporated on Sept 26, 2016, and only then was the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract with CCCC and the loan agreement with Export-Import Bank of China, for the ECRL project was under its purview. To date, the ECRL has made 14.33% overall progress of its construction, which includes setting up of base and satellite camps in all eight sections of the project, land acquisition, site clearing and construction of road access. Multiple road access totalling some 95km in length and temporary bridges spanning 1,067m have been constructed at many of the ECRL project sites in the East Coast states. MRL, calling the ECRL a key catalytic project, said the ECRL is progressing slightly ahead schedule and is on track for completion and operation by mid-2024. The construction works for seven tunnels in various parts of the rail alignment in Pahang and Terengganu have started. Preparatory work for Southeast Asia's longest rail tunnel – the 16.3km Genting Tunnel is also in progress. Tunnel boring machines for the twin-bore Genting Tunnel are expected to arrive in November to facilitate tunnelling works between Bentong and Gombak. "We trust the Federal Government will soon make an informed decision on the best course of action regarding the ECRL project. Meanwhile, we continue to provide information to the Federal Government in their review of the project," MRL said.