Malaysia may renegotiate some deals with China- Mahathir

Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a news conference following the general election in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia may renegotiate some deals with China, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday, just hours after his coalition secured a stunning election win against the government of Najib Razak.

Mahathir said that his government would likely reverse some policies implemented by the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, including a highly unpopular goods and services tax.

The 92-year-old told a news conference he supported China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) but said Malaysia reserved the right to renegotiate terms of some agreements with Beijing, if necessary.

“We have no problem with that (BRI), except of course we would not like to see too many warships in this area because (a) warship attracts other warships,” he said.

A Nomura report last month showed that Malaysia is one of the largest beneficiaries of Chinese investment commitments in Asia, securing $34.2 billion of BRI-related infrastructure projects, which have prompted critics to accuse Najib of “selling” Malaysia to the Asian powerhouse.

Asked about the idea of renegotiation, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not address the issue directly, but said the two countries’ relations were developing well.

“This is worth both sides cherishing and safeguarding,” Geng added, at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Clarence Fernandez