Singapore minister: Putrajaya requested RTS project suspension again until April 2020

Zurairi Ar
On October 31, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, connecting Johor Baru and Singapore, would proceed without further delay. — Picture by Ben Tan

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — Putrajaya has made a request with Singapore, seeking the suspension of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project again until April 30, 2020, despite announcing it would proceed without further delay.

Singapore’s CNA quoted the Republic’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan as telling its Parliament in a written reply yesterday that Malaysia was not yet ready to share the details of its proposed changes to the project.

“Without the details, Malaysia’s proposal is incomplete and Singapore is unable to make a thorough assessment of the technical and commercial feasibility of the proposal,” he reportedly wrote in reply to Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng.

Khaw said the further extension of the suspension period was requested on October 29, just two days before the new launch.

“In the spirit of bilateral cooperation, Singapore agreed to Malaysia’s request to further extend the suspension period,” he added.

On October 31, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the commencement of the project, after its cost was reduced by 36 per cent from RM4.93 billion to RM3.16 billion.

Earlier that same day, Transport Minister Anthony Loke had reprimanded The Star newspaper over its frontpage report claiming Malaysia had requested another postponement to the RTS.

Khaw reportedly said in his Parliamentary reply that both sides are still discussing the proposed changes, since it will require the RTS Link Bilateral Agreement to be amended.

Two agreements will also need to be signed when the suspension is finally lifted, the first being the joint venture agreement between Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia Berhad and Singapore’s SMRT Corporation to form an operating company.

The other will be a concession agreement for both countries to appoint the operation company as the RTS Link operator.

“The discussions will take some time, and both sides are working hard on this,” Khaw reportedly said.

The deal, which was originally drawn up between the former Barisan Nasional administration and the Singapore government, is crucial for connectivity between the Republic and Malaysia’s Southern Economic Corridor Iskandar Malaysia, and to resolve the long-standing traffic congestion along the Causeway.

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