It was reported yesterday that a Malaysian media, The Malaysian Insight, has disclosed that Malaysia will no longer proceed with the long-delayed high-speed rail (HSR) project with Singapore (‘M’sia media says HSR to proceed without SG and terminus to be built in Johor instead‘, 14 Dec).
Malaysia will implement the project on its own and build the terminus in Johor instead of Singapore. This is according to an inside source of Malaysian Insight.
Citing the source, Malaysian Insight said that Malaysia was prepared to pay Singapore RM300 million (S$100 million) in compensation to go alone. Malaysian Insight added that the Malaysian Cabinet decided it will no longer work with Singapore on the HSR project at a meeting last Friday (11 Dec).
Apparently, according to Malaysian Insight, Malaysia had asked to build a HSR station at its Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which Singapore had rejected, with the source claiming that Singapore perceived this as a threat to its regional aviation hub status.
In May 2018, the HSR project faced its first set back when then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced that Malaysia will be dropping the project, citing the project’s huge costs. This announcement came after Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan coalition won the 14th Malaysian general election 2 years ago.
After some back and forth, the project was later deferred, with both countries signing an agreement to delay it for two years.
In June 2020, Singapore and Malaysia agreed once again to defer the HSR project till the end of this year, after Malaysia requested another seven-month extension. The Malaysia Insight’s report came with 2 weeks to go before the end of 2020 deadline is up.
Singapore’s Ministry of Transport says “still in discussions”
Meanwhile, responding to media enquiry, a spokesperson for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said that Singapore and Malaysia are still in discussions over HSR project.
“Singapore and Malaysia are in discussions on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project,” the spokesperson said.
“As communicated in the Dec 2 joint statement by both prime ministers, we will announce further details on the HSR project in due course.”
But when the media sought clarification from Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport, it declined to comment.
The original 350km rail project was to run from a terminal station in Bandar Malaysia in downtown Kuala Lumpur, cross the Strait of Johor near the Second Link, and stop at a terminal in Jurong East. It will also have several stops along the track.
When the HSR project was first announced in 2010, it was touted as being able to cut the travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes. It was conceived at a time when the PM of Malaysia then was Najib Razak, who used to eat durians together with PM Lee.