Fresh perspectives arise with Dr Mahathir calling off the HSR project and blogsites in Malaysia are questioning the deal signed with Singapore by the previous government.
With 90% of the railroad project to be done in Malaysia, and most of the expenditure falling on the Malaysian government, was there really a need for Singapore to be involved?
The Finance Twitter site said, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is moving for the kill as he scraps RM110 Billion HSR project, “and there’s nothing that Singapore can do.”
The site also said since Singapore does not actually need the HSR project, it is amazing that Singapore is compensated half a billion ringgit in the event the contract is cancelled.
The site said it is altogether amazing that the island nation’s involvement is less than 10% and more than 90% of the railroad will be on Malaysian soil.
“Consider this – the 688-km East Coast Rail Link or ECRL project costs RM55 billion but the shorter 350-km HSR project will cost RM110 billion,” it said.
The Singapore-Kuala Lumpur 350-km high-speed rail link project which had been inked in 2016 under Ex-PM Najib Razak was inflated to include kickbacks, said the site.
Newly installed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir yesterday revealed the project was designed in such a way that Malaysia will be penalised with a fine of RM500 million if it withdrew from the HSR.
Finance Twitter said that obviously, something is fishy since the HSR – a shorter rail line – costs almost double when compared to the ECRL.
It asked whether China should have been awarded the HSR project “since they could build it at half the price, or 50% discount?”.
“All hell breaks loose when Pakatan Harapan coalition made a stunning victory.
“In normal circumstances, Mahathir should be the one flying to Singapore begging PM Lee Hsien Loong to cancel, or at least reconsider, the RM110 billion HSR project,” it said.
Instead, Finance Twitter said it was the panicked Mr Lee who flew to Malaysia to meet Dr Mahathir.
“Even then, the Singaporean prime minister was given a short 30 minutes for the meeting, before Lee left Mahathir’s office.”
Lee Hsien Loong did mention that he wanted to talk about the HSR with the Malaysian leader.
But Dr Mahathir simply told him that the HSR will be scrapped, one way or another, said Finance Twitter.
Mahathir said – “It is a final decision, but it will take time because we have an agreement with Singapore. It’s not beneficial. It’s going to cost us a huge sum of money. We’ll make no money at all from this arrangement. It is only a short track. It is only going to save people one hour by taking the HSR.”
To lose RM500 million in a penalty for cancelling the project is better than to spend RM110 billion on a mega-project which is doomed to fail.
“The ticket price for the HSR trip will be too expensive for ordinary Malaysians.
“However, based on Mahathir’s track record, he is not going to bend over and flash half a billion of ringgit to Lee Hsien Loong without a fight.
“If Dr Mahathir had previously given Lee Kuan Yew a run for his money, chances are the old man is going to do the same to his son now. The Malaysian prime minister has already hinted that his administration will haggle – and most likely drag his feet – about the final compensation figures for Singapore,” said Finance Twitter.
The site also said it believed Dr Mahathir might even offer Singapore a small token of compensation for cancelling the project, “and there’s nothing Singapore can do about it.”
“Will Singapore drag Malaysia to the international court and in the process spill the beans about how the unfavourable terms were made between scandal-plagued Najib Razak and his Singapore buddy?”