A central focus of both Malaysia’s unlikely changing-of-the-guard and now an unlikely about face from China’s Belt and Road negotiators, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is quite a contentious infrastructure project.

The initiative, first agreed to by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2016, seeks to connect Kuala Lumpur to southern Thailand via a new rail link along Malaysia’s west coast. It fell out of favor after the surprise election of Mahathir Mohamad in 2018, who pledged to either renegotiate the project or scrap it entirely citing high costs and the corrupt dealings of the Najib regime.