Singapore will seek compensation for all costs if M’sia cancels HSR: Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan

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Singapore plans to seek compensation for all costs incurred if Malaysia cancels the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

During talks at parliament earlier today, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that compensation would be sought as per the terms of the 2016 high-speed rail bilateral agreement between Singapore and Malaysia.

Mr Khaw also added that there has been no reply to Singapore’s diplomatic note sent on June 1 to seek Malaysia’s position on the (HSR) project even as costs incurred continue to rise rapidly.

He said, “We will deal with the question of compensation from Malaysia for costs incurred by Singapore in accordance with the bilateral agreement and international law”.

According to Mr Khaw, the total cost incurred had already exceeded S$250 million by the end of May 2018, with further costs of around S$52 million to be incurred by the end of December.

“All these works cost money. Including costs for consultancies to design the civil infrastructure, costs for dedicating manpower to oversee and deliver the project, and costs for land acquisition,” he said.

Mr Khaw also added that if the project does not proceed, a significant amount of taxpayers’ money “will be completely wasted expenditure”.

In addition to costs incurred locally, rail consortia from China, Japan, Europe and other interested parties such as international financial institutions, have also been incurring costs preparing their bids, said Mr Khaw.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir has also suspended works on the East Coast Rail Link and energy pipeline projects backed by Chinese state companies, citing reasons of cost.

Representatives from Mahathir’s office and transport minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook did not respond to questions.

Should there be no official response from the Malaysian Government, Mr Khaw said, “These due processes should be followed. If the Malaysian government fails to provide an official response, then we cannot ignore the public statements made by the Malaysian ministers, and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir himself, on the termination of the project, and Singapore will act according to its rights”.

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obbana@theindependent.sg