News analysis

Singapore-KL high-speed rail deferment: Hitting pause button will allow KL to review project specifications

When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced plans to scrap the high-speed rail (HSR) to Singapore within days of returning to power, it was ostensibly because Malaysia could not afford to add to liabilities worth RM1.1 trillion (S$366 billion) his government claimed to have inherited from the hitherto long-ruling Barisan Nasional.

But since May, the language has evolved to "deferment" of the project, so that the two neighbours can push back the thorny question of penalties said to be worth up to RM500 million for breaking the agreement inked in December 2016. Singapore said it has spent about $250 million implementing the HSR project to date.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2018, with the headline 'Hitting pause button will allow KL to review project specifications'. Subscribe