Report: HSR deferment to enable Malaysia to review project specifications

Ranjit Singh
Minister of Economic Affairs, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (centre) shakes hands with Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan during a news conference in Putrajaya September 5, 2018. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 ― When the high-speed rail (HSR) to Singapore is revisited in two years’ time, it will not be resumed in its “current shape and form” reports Singapore’s Straits Times today.

The newspaper quotes an official source as saying, “Fewer stations or just a direct express are possible. Definitely not the current set-up.”

Malaysia signed a supplementary agreement on Wednesday to defer the construction of the proposed High-Speed Rail (HSR) until May 31, 2020.

In May this year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced the HSR would be scrapped as Malaysia could not afford it.

With a debt of RM1.1 trillion inherited from the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government the immediate objective of the new government is to cut expenditure.

However, the supplementary agreement now allows for a relook at the project. The Straits Times report said “the debate over the financials of the project should not detract from what was an astonishing diplomatic victory for the two countries.”

Relations between the two countries have been rather “prickly” since Pakatan Harapan won at the last general elections on May 9.

For context, the report said it took less than a month since Malaysian Economics Affair Minister Datuk Seri Azmin met with Co-ordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to seek the deferment on August 11 for the deal to be sealed.

In comparison, it took six years for “ousted prime minister Najib Razak to sign the HSR deal with Singapore since it was first mooted in 2010.”

Related Articles KL-Singapore HSR postponed: A boost for bilateral ties, but not all is ‘win-win' Malaysia inks deal to defer HSR to 2020, to pay Singapore RM45m PM: Malaysia Inc not altruism on Putrajaya’s part