Malaysia to decide on Singapore-KL high-speed rail very soon: Mahathir

An artist's impression of the High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. Dr Mahathir had said after his coalition was swept into power that the 350km rail deal between Singapore and Malaysia would be reviewed.
An artist's impression of the High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. Dr Mahathir had said after his coalition was swept into power that the 350km rail deal between Singapore and Malaysia would be reviewed.PHOTO: FARRELLS

PUTRAJAYA - A decision on mega-projects like the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail (HSR) will be made "very soon", said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday (May 23).

He was speaking at a press conference, held immediately after he chaired the first Cabinet meeting of Malaysia's new government elected on May 9.

 

The 350km rail deal between Singapore and Malaysia had been inked in 2016 under the previous prime minister Najib Razak, but Tun Dr Mahathir had said after his coalition was swept into power that it would be reviewed.

At Wednesday's press conference, Dr Mahathir also announced that the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad), which led negotiations for the HSR under the previous government, would be abolished.

Its tasks would be carried out by the Transport Ministry instead, he added.

Other mega-projects being reviewed by Malaysia's new government include the East Coast Rail Link connecting the country's east and west coast, to ensure that the deal was reached in a transparent way.

The HSR is estimated to cost up to RM50 billion (S$16 billion), and will cut the travelling time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes.

 

MyHSR Corporation chief executive Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said earlier this month that he estimated Malaysia could lose RM209 billion (S$71 billion) in gross national income if the HSR was scrapped.

At a separate press conference in the afternoon, newly-minted Transport Minister Anthony Loke declined to give an indication of just how soon the review’s decision would be made.

“We will announce it when we have a decision... There’s no decision as of now on the HSR,” he told reporters. 

He said: “We will work very fast. A decision will be made soon, but how soon, we cannot answer because it takes time to review.”

Dr Mahathir at his news conference also said the government would review the search contract for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.

The previous administration had struck a deal to pay United States-based seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity up to US$70 million (S$93.4 million) if it finds the Malaysia Airlines MH370 aircraft within 90 days.