KL representative to discuss HSR project with Singapore by month-end

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and several Malaysian ministers had previously expressed reluctance to go ahead with the high-speed rail project in media reports.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and several Malaysian ministers had previously expressed reluctance to go ahead with the high-speed rail project in media reports.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said yesterday that the country would send an official representative to Singapore by the end of the month to discuss the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, the Bernama news agency reported.

"I am in communication with our Singaporean counterpart. Last week, I was briefed by our Attorney-General (Tommy Thomas) and presented the case (to the Cabinet) on Wednesday," said Datuk Seri Azmin.

"We will meet with my counterpart in Singapore soon and will discuss the details," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Azmin said an announcement on the matter would be made this week.

The deal on the 350km-long HSR, inked in 2016 under the previous Barisan Nasional administration, is one of several mega projects being reviewed by the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government after it took power in May. The HSR would slash the land travelling time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to just 90 minutes - compared to four to five hours by car. It was originally expected to be completed in 2026.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last week his government had not yet officially informed Singapore of its decision on the HSR. "We have not given them full notice yet, but they know what we want to do," he was quoted as telling reporters last Tuesday.

Tun Dr Mahathir and several Malaysian ministers had previously expressed reluctance to go ahead with the project in media reports.

In an interview with The Straits Times last week, Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the country had received offers to halve the cost of building the HSR link, and would consider reviving the project if its price tag was lowered.

 

Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament last week that it had yet to receive a response from Malaysia after sending a diplomatic note on June 1 seeking clarification on Kuala Lumpur's stance towards the HSR.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'KL representative to discuss HSR project with S'pore by month-end'. Print Edition | Subscribe