Signing of high-speed rail pact next week: Najib

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak observe Singaporean Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan as they sign the High Speed Rail MOU at the
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak observe Singaporean Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan as they sign the High Speed Rail MOU at the Prime Minister's official residence on July 19, 2016.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Singapore and Malaysia will sign the bilateral agreement for the high- speed rail project in Kuala Lumpur next week, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday.

Datuk Seri Najib told reporters in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, that Singapore had requested a bit more time as it needed the President's approval before inking the pact.

Both countries had been scheduled to sign the agreement at their Leaders' Retreat, initially planned for Monday.

The meeting was postponed.

Malaysia's national news agency, Bernama, cited Mr Najib as saying: "Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called me and asked for a little bit of time to brief their President."

Mr Najib added that, under the Singapore Constitution, the guarantee of such a project would need approval from the President.

"We will be signing the agreement next week. (PM Lee) is coming to Kuala Lumpur," Mr Najib said.

Singapore officials declined to comment, but The Straits Times understands that the signing will take place in Malaysia next week.

PM Lee told Bernama in an interview last week that both sides had made "very good progress" on the agreement, which will spell out details of matters such as cost sharing and how the project will be built and operated.

Once signed, tenders for an advanced engineering study and works can be called.

The high-speed rail will cut travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes. Construction of the 350km line is expected to start in 2018, with trains running by 2026.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2016, with the headline 'Signing of high-speed rail pact next week: Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe