Transport Ministry asks Malaysian government to clarify position on KL-Singapore high-speed rail project by July 31

An artist's impression of High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. A spokesman for Singapore's Transport Ministry said that if Malaysia wishes to meet Singapore to discuss the HSR project, it should do so by July 31.
An artist's impression of High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. A spokesman for Singapore's Transport Ministry said that if Malaysia wishes to meet Singapore to discuss the HSR project, it should do so by July 31.PHOTO: FARRELLS

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Transport Ministry (MOT) has asked the Malaysian government to provide a written response clarifying its position on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project by July 31.

A ministry spokesman also said on Friday (July 20) that if Malaysia wishes to meet Singapore to discuss the HSR project, it should do so by that same date.

"They have yet to provide to Singapore the clarifications sought, or communicate their proposed dates for such discussions," said the spokesman, who added that the ministry made its request to Malaysia via diplomatic channels.

The spokesman was responding to queries from the media about comments made on Thursday by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Tun Dr Mahathir said Malaysia would negotiate a deferment of the HSR project with Singapore so as to avoid paying compensation under an earlier plan to scrap the project.

He also said there will be discussions on the matter when Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali visits Singapore by the end of the month.

Mr Azmin's office has said it would inform Singapore about proposed dates for the discussions before the end of July, but no date has yet been set for a meeting.

 
 
 

In May, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia's Cabinet agreed to scrap the HSR project to cut Malaysia's debt. But he backtracked in June, saying the project would be postponed instead.

The 350km HSR, a project agreed to during former prime minister Najib Razak's time in office, would cut travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes, compared with more than four hours by car.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said earlier this month that Singapore has already spent $250 million on the project, and is likely to pour in another $40 million by year end.

On Friday, the Transport Ministry spokesman said: "We note the multiple and conflicting statements made by the Malaysian Government concerning its intentions for the HSR Project. As the HSR Bilateral Agreement is a binding international treaty, both Malaysia and Singapore remain obliged to fulfil the existing terms of the Agreement, in the absence of mutually agreed amendments to the Agreement."