Considering HSR's M'sian terminal will be in 1MDB project, it deserves better scrutiny

The United States government announced yesterday that it planned to move and seize more than US$1 billion in assets purchased with money that people close to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak reportedly “stole” from the PM’s brainchild, Malaysian strategic investment fund 1MDB.

The announcement came a day after the Mr Najib formally inked an agreement to develop a High Speed Rail (HSR) network jointly with his counterpart in Singapore. The terminal for the Singapore side of HSR will be in Jurong East, and for the Malaysian side, it will be in Bandar Malaysia.

Bandar Malaysia is a 1MDB’s property project. In December 2015, a 40:60 joint-venture consortium of China Railway Construction Corp and Malaysian Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn, bought a 60 per cent stake in the project for US$1.7 billion.

In January 2016, both 1MDB and the Consortium issued a joint statement saying:

“1MDB and the Consortium both confirm that HSR is an entirely separate project, whose award will ultimately be determined jointly by the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore, per a separate process, that is and will not be linked or be contingent on, in any way, to the sale of 1MDB equity in the Bandar Malaysia project.”

The idea of a HSR was first floated in by the government of both countries 2013, long before the 1MDB scandal surfaced.

In face of the serious allegation by America’s Department of Justice that the Malaysian people defrauded on ‘enormous scale’ in the 1MDB saga, several netizens have asked if the HSR project should be better scrutinised. Some have suggested that the topic should be robustly debated in Parliament.