Anthony Loke urged to probe “stupid” decision by PN govt to cancel KL-Singapore HSR project

Anthony Loke urged to probe “stupid” decision by PN govt to cancel KL-Singapore HSR project

MALAYSIA — Anthony Loke, Malaysia’s Transport Minister, has been urged to probe the “stupid decision” by Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) government to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project.

“I hope the new minister will investigate what happened (that led to the HSR’s cancellation),”  Datuk Aziz Kaprawi, former transport minister, told Malaysia media Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

“There must be accountability. Who benefited from the cancellation of the KL-Singapore HSR? Why was such a stupid decision made?”

Aziz, who served under Najib’s administration, said numerous studies showed the project would have benefited the people and the economy.

Aziz urged Mr Loke to uncover more details on the cancellation of the project, as there was a total lack of transparency and the public should be aware of all the facts on the matter.

“What studies did the then government refer to in making their decision? Was there an alternative (to the HSR) proposed or discussed by the Cabinet?”

Following the project’s cancellation, then-Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed revealed that a study into a proposed KL-Johor Bahru HSR had been completed and submitted to the Cabinet in October 2021.

Aziz told FMT that study should also be made public, noting that experts had voiced concern that a KL-Johor Bahru line would not be sustainable.

Malaysia Paid More Than S$102 Million To Singapore After HSR Project Scrapped

The HSR project, which will stretch approximately 350 kilometres long, was first signed between Malaysia and Singapore in December 2016 and slated to be ready by the end of 2026.

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

When Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition formed the government after GE14 in 2018, then-PM Mahathir Mohamad said the HSR project could cost Malaysia RM110 billion (S$36.2 billion), expressing the intention to drop the project.

In September 2018, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to suspend the HSR project until end-May 2020, with Malaysia having to pay Singapore S$15 million for costs incurred for the suspension.

PH government later agreed to continue with the project after some adjustments to reduce the cost.

After toppling the PH government in Sheraton Move and rising to power, the PN government led by Muhyiddin Yassin further suspended the HSR project for seven more months from May to December 2020.

The HSR project was eventually discontinued after multiple postponements at Malaysia’s request and an eventual lapsing of an agreement on 1 January 2021.

As a result of the termination of the project, Malaysia paid more than S$102 million in compensation to Singapore.

According to The Edge, Malaysia was planning to continue the project without Singapore’s participation.

Ismail Sabri, the successor of Muhyiddin Yassin, has proposed reviving discussions on the KL-Singapore HSR project on Nov 2021.

Muhyiddin once claim HSR cancellation to protect country’s interest from “foreign interference”

On 19 December last year, Muhyiddin claimed that the previous contract signed under the BN’s government with Singapore had “biased terms”, which could threaten Malaysia’s sovereignty.

One of which was Singapore’s alleged control over AssetsCo, which he claimed would have been in charge of HSR operations in Malaysia.

He believed that with the termination of HSR agreement with Singapore, he had managed to restore Malaysia’s sovereignty.

Muhyiddin added that Malaysia can have complete control over the execution of strategic infrastructure projects without Singapore’s involvement, “we can make decisions to protect the interests of our country without foreign interference.”

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