High-speed rail, ties with KL on Parliament agenda

An artist's impression of the High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. MPs want to know the costs that Singapore has already incurred as of last month, and whether they can be recovered should Malaysia renege on the agreement to build the line linkin
An artist's impression of the High Speed Rail Terminal in Jurong East. MPs want to know the costs that Singapore has already incurred as of last month, and whether they can be recovered should Malaysia renege on the agreement to build the line linking Jurong and Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: FARRELLS

MPs to raise questions on costs incurred, impact if project is scrapped by Malaysia

The status of the high-speed rail (HSR) project between Singapore and Malaysia will come up for discussion in the House on Monday, according to the agenda for next week's Parliament sitting.

The issue has generated interest and concern following pronouncements in May by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia plans to scrap the multi-billion dollar project that is already under way.

Tun Dr Mahathir has also said that he had not formally informed Singapore of the decision.

MPs including Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC), Mr Sitoh Yih Pin (Potong Pasir) and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) want to know the costs that Singapore has already incurred as of last month, and whether they can be recovered should Malaysia renege on the agreement to build the line linking Jurong and Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Ang said he tabled the question in part because residents "have been asking whether it is on or off". The HSR station is to be located in Jurong, and his residents have been looking forward to the convenience the rail line will bring, and anticipating a boost to the value of their property, among other things, he said.

Others such as Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) and Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh asked how the cancellation of the project would affect government revenue and expenditure.

Mr Singh, who is the Workers' Party chief, said the scrapping of the project would have implications on the Government's spending on infrastructure. "If, indeed, the HSR project is not going forward, then it begs the question: Is that going to affect the Government's timeline with regard to the implementation of GST (goods and services tax)?" he added.

The issue has thrown up questions about bilateral ties as well, and Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) wants to know how Singapore and Malaysia will continue to have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Another foreign affairs issue will also get an airing, with MPs concerned about how the trade war between the United States and China will affect Singapore.

Nominated MP K. Thanaletchimi is particularly concerned about the impact on Singapore workers and consumers, and wants to know Singapore's strategy to overcome any resulting challenges.

Closer to home, MPs will also talk about the closure of bike-sharing firm oBike, the cost of living and salaries for work permit holders.

During the sitting, which is expected to stretch over two days, the House will debate seven Bills as well, and hear from five NMPs who will speak on education as the foundation for the future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2018, with the headline 'High-speed rail, ties with KL on Parliament agenda'. Print Edition | Subscribe