KL-Singapore high-speed rail costs above S$37b with interest: Lim Guan Eng

An artist's impression of the High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. In 2016, both Malaysia and Singapore signed a pact to build the high-speed rail, which will shorten travelling time between Singapore and KL to just 90 minutes. PHOTO: FARRELLS

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has accused his predecessor Najib Razak of ignoring interest charges when claiming that the high-speed rail (HSR) to Singapore would cost only RM72 billion (S$24.5 billion).

The Mahathir Mohamad administration has said it will ask Singapore to cancel the 350km link to Kuala Lumpur - the first major project to be scrapped by the three-week old government - as it would have cost a total of RM110 billion (S$37 billion).

Former premier Datuk Seri Najib, who was also finance minister, in a Facebook post on Wednesday, said the cost of the project as of early this year stood at RM72 billion.

Mr Lim told reporters on Thursday (May 31): "No, it is more (than RM72 billion) if you include the interest component. Please be truthful. It is way above RM100 billion."

Mr Najib, who has been writing on his Facebook account to question various issues involving the new Pakatan Harapan government, said studies showed the HSR would create many jobs.

"There would have been 110,000 job opportunities created, which is estimated to increase to about 442,000 by year 2069," he wrote.

Asked about this after an event on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mahathir told reporters the project could have cost anywhere between RM60 billion and RM100 billion.

"You want to spend RM60 billion to RM100 billion so that 100,000 people can work. That's not very efficient," he said.

Malaysia is due to open negotiations with Singapore to unwind an agreement inked in 2016 by the previous administration.

The HSR line would have cut travel time between the two capitals to 90 minutes once completed in 2026, from about four hours by car.

Mr Lim, meanwhile, said the 197ha Bandar Malaysia project, which was to house the KL terminus for the HSR, is being reviewed.

It was owned by troubled state investor 1MDB before the land was returned to the Finance Ministry.

It would also have seen two Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines stopping in the township, helping push its projected gross development value to RM200 billion.

But one of the MRT networks, Line 3, has now been shelved as the Pakatan Harapan government reviews its finances.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2018, with the headline KL-Singapore high-speed rail costs above S$37b with interest: Lim Guan Eng. Subscribe