Crucial to stick to terms of HSR deal

That Malaysia has agreed to hold talks with Singapore soon concerning the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) project is welcome news (Malaysia to negotiate deferment of high-speed rail with Singapore; July 20).

But such discussion is expected to be a difficult process as it appears that the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration is not in favour of the project at all.

Given the uncertain circumstances surrounding the Malaysian political landscape, there is no guarantee that there will not be a change of government in their next election.

Hence, when dealing with projects with our neighbour, we need to ensure that everything mutually agreed upon should be legally binding, as in the case of the HSR project.

This is to safeguard our national interest.

In other words, if Malaysia decides to cancel the HSR project, they must pay full compensation to Singapore in accordance with the terms of the bilateral agreement signed in 2016.

We must not accede to their request for a reduction in compensation because doing so will adversely affect Singapore's credibility as a serious business entity whose dealings are transparent and above board.

Also, it is important for the new PH administration to stop flip-flopping on the HSR project if it really desires a mutually fruitful and beneficial settlement of the project.

Hopefully, there will be a climate of sincerity and trust when the two countries get together to resolve the matter and arrive at a win-win situation.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2018, with the headline 'Crucial to stick to terms of HSR deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe