KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia and Singapore have postponed the signing of a bilateral agreement on the high-speed rail (HSR) project due to scheduling and other administrative matters, the New Straits Times reported on Thursday (Dec 1), citing a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak had been scheduled to meet in Johor Baru on Dec 5 to witness the signing of the agreement during their annual retreat.
The minister cited by NST, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, told the daily that Malaysia had suggested Dec 21 as the new date. The delay is due to scheduling and other administrative matters, he added, saying "all issues have been ironed out".
"We had a meeting with Singapore Transport Minister Khaw (Boon Wan) on Tuesday. Both sides agreed to fine tune some details in the bilateral agreement," Datuk Rahman was quoted as saying.
Responding to media queries on the report, a spokesman of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “We are in the process of finalising the key deliverables for the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat. We are working to hold the Retreat soon.”
Conceived in 2013, the 350km rail project - 15km of which will be in Singapore - is expected to begin construction in 2018 and start operating in 2026.
The HSR, with a top speed of more than 300kmh, is expected to cut travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes, compared to the current four- to five-hour road journey.
It was previously reported that Datuk Rahman met Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Khaw on Tuesday. Datuk Rahman said on Instagram they met "to harmonise last minute details of the Bilateral Agreement on Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Rail project before signing ceremony in December".
A memorandum of understanding for the HSR project was signed in July this year by Mr Khaw and Datuk Rahman, and it was witnessed by the two prime ministers.