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Singapore and Malaysia to sign new agreement on High Speed Rail; postponement of project anticipated

A new agreement on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail Link (HSR) project will be signed by Singapore and Malaysia today (5 Sep) at 2 p.m. at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia.

The press release on the signing of the new agreement on the High-Speed Rail Link by Malaysia's Ministry of Economic Affairs, dated 5 Sep 2018.

The new document, of which the content has yet to be mentioned by the Malaysian Minister of Economic Affairs Mr Azmin Ali, will be signed by Mr Azmin and Singapore's Transport Minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean, his Malaysian counterpart Dr Wan Azizah, and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will also be present to witness the signing.

Previously, it was reported that Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to delay the project by two years as a means of allowing the latter nation more time to analyse its financial capacity, following the billion-Ringgit national debt accrued during the previous administration.

Mr Azmin also confirmed on Monday (3 Sep) that Malaysia will not be penalised for the delay, and that it will not be required to offer financial compensation to Singapore throughout the delay.

Previously in July, Dr Mahathir said that Malaysia would seek to defer the HSR project.

Prior to that, he announced that the HSR project will be included in the Malaysian government's review of foreign projects and contracts to be axed as a part of its efforts to reduce expenditure and to manage national debt.

The HSR project, which will stretch approximately 350 kilometres long, was slated to be ready by the end of 2026.

It was predicted that the HSR will reduce the usual rail travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur down to 90 minutes.

The project was first jointly introduced by Singapore's Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia's then-premier Najib Razak during the rule of the previous Barisan Nasional government.

The HSR agreement was first signed between Malaysia and Singapore in December 2016 by Singapore's Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mr Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

To date, Singapore has spent approximately S$250 million on the project.