JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Johor government is hopeful that the high-speed rail (HSR) project will be continued, even if it is not linked to Singapore.
Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad said on Saturday (Jan 2) that the HSR project could still bring huge benefits to the country.
He added that Johor would be the project's main beneficiary, as most of the HSR development would be in the state.
He said that although Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR has been terminated, Johor Umno is hopeful that it can resume in the future.
"At the same time, we also are not ruling out the possibility of Singapore's involvement in the new project in terms of investment," Datuk Hasni told a press conference at the Johor Umno office.
Separately, Umno's Youth wing said it was disappointed by the decision to terminate the HSR link connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
"The cancellation of a high-impact infrastructure project which has a multiplier effect is a step back and counterproductive in the efforts to revive the economy post-Covid-19.
"The Malaysian government's action is a big blunder early because it goes against the current trend of economic development seen in neighbouring countries," Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
In a statement after the HSR termination was announced on Friday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mustapa Mohamed said the government would undertake a detailed study to explore all possible options, including the viability of a domestic HSR project and its benefits to Malaysians.
The 350km line would have run from a terminal station in Bandar Malaysia in downtown Kuala Lumpur, to a terminal in Singapore's western Jurong area.
There has been speculation in the media that the federal government would continue with the HSR project from Kuala Lumpur, with its terminal station in Johor Baru.
Mr Hasni said that even though the new HSR route did not involve a station in the island republic, the project would still benefit Malaysians.
He urged the Federal government to involve Johor to study any new HSR project, including identifying new locations for the stations.
Meanwhile, Johor PKR deputy chief Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said termination of the KL-Singapore HSR project was a "missed opportunity" not only for Johor but Malaysia as well.
The project could have been a game-changer and a great economic catalyst if it was managed well from the start, rather than with Malaysia having to pay compensation of millions of ringgit to Singapore, he said, as quoted by Malay Mail online news.