A Malaysian media outlet claimed on Sunday (Dec 13) that Malaysia will proceed with the long-delayed high-speed rail (HSR) project without Singapore’s involvement.
In a short report titled ‘Malaysia to fly solo, pay off Singapore in HSR deal’, The Malaysian Insight wrote that it was planned for the HSR track to end in Johor.
It also added that according to an anonymous source, Malaysia was prepared to pay Singapore RM300 million (S$99 million) in compensation.
The suspended project has a deadline of Dec 31 as its last extension before officials have to make a final determination on its status.
According to a Straits Times online report, a Singapore Ministry of Transport spokesman on Sunday said both countries are in discussion on the HSR project.
“As communicated in the Dec 2 Joint Statement by both Prime Ministers, we will announce further details on the HSR Project through a Joint Statement in due course,” the spokesman said.
The HSR project was first announced in 2010, and was touted as being able to cut the travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes, compared with over four hours by car.
Both countries signed the bilateral agreement, a legally binding international pact, in Putrajaya in December 2016, witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Malaysian PM Najib Razak.
In May 2018, the HSR project was postponed when then-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that Malaysia will be dropping the project, citing the project’s huge costs.
Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised to review all expensive infrastructural projects within Malaysia, including the HSR, if it was elected in the 14th Malaysian general election.
After some back and forth, the project was later deferred, with both countries signing an agreement to delay it for two years.
The commencement date of the HSR service was also delayed to Jan. 1, 2031, from Dec. 31, 2026.
In June 2020, Singapore and Malaysia agreed once again to defer the HSR project until the end of 2020, after Malaysia requested a seven-month extension to allow both sides to discuss and assess Malaysia’s proposed changes to the project. /TISG