No official notification from Malaysia over cancellation of HSR project, says Singapore

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SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said it has not received any official notification from Malaysia regarding the dropping of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

This comes in response to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announcing in a press conference on Monday that Malaysia would pull out of the deal with Singapore. 

He had, in an earlier interview, cited the need to do away with unnecessary projects, one of them being the cross-border HSR, which will cost Malaysia RM110bil and not earn them “a single cent”.

Asked about this, a spokesman from Singapore’s MOT said it is still awaiting “official communication from Malaysia”.

“We had agreed to proceed with the HSR project based on mutual benefits and obligations set out in the HSR bilateral agreement,” the spokesman added.

In 2016, both countries signed a pact to build the HSR, which will shorten travelling time between Singapore and KL to just 90 minutes. The project was targeted to be completed by 2026.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said during a joint press conference at the 8th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in January this year that the HSR deal is a “binding agreement”.

Lee has said then that “whoever is the government on either side… this is an agreement which they inherit and which they are party to”.

“If the subsequent government has other ideas, well, that would have to be dealt with and the agreement will deal with these contingencies,” Lee added.

If Malaysia scraps the HSR project, it is liable to pay Singapore a compensation, the amount of which is unclear.

Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in reports that “the compensation may be as much as 500mil”, but he was unsure if this was in ringgit or dollars, as he had not seen the HSR bilateral agreement.

Dr Mahathir also said in Monday’s press conference that the plan to drop the HSR project was a “final decision” and added that the Government will look at how to reduce the compensation amount. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

An artist’s impression of the High-Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. PHOTO: FARRELLS