KL yet to propose date for HSR talks: S'pore ministry

Visitors at an exhibition last year on the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail. Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali was quoted in Malaysian media online as saying that the meeting with Singapore will hopefully take place early this month.
Visitors at an exhibition last year on the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail. Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali was quoted in Malaysian media online as saying that the meeting with Singapore will hopefully take place early this month.PHOTO: BERNAMA

Singapore welcomes Malaysia's suggestion to start discussions on the future of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR), but has yet to receive a proposed meeting date, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said yesterday.

Its spokesman said in a statement that Singapore had received a letter from Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali dated July 23. In the letter, Datuk Seri Azmin said the Malaysian government was studying the 350km rail project and will commence discussions with Singapore soon.

Also, the Malay Mail reported on its online news site yesterday that Mr Azmin said the July 31 deadline given by Singapore to discuss the HSR was just a "suggestion", and the meeting will hopefully take place early this month.

In response, the MOT spokesman said Malaysia has not proposed a meeting date as of yesterday.

Malaysia is considering delaying the HSR project - inked in 2016 and due to be completed in 2026 - while it grapples with a debt of RM1 trillion (S$335 billion). It estimates the HSR would cost RM110 billion.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said last month that his government would negotiate a deferment of the HSR to avoid paying compensation to Singapore. He had earlier talked about scrapping the project.

Meanwhile, Singapore has spent about $250 million on the project, and is likely to pour in another $40 million by the year end.

Separately, the MOT spokesman said the Singapore Government is happy that Malaysia remains committed to the 4km MRT link between Johor Baru and Singapore.

Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said on Monday that the Malaysian Cabinet had given in-principle approval for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link.

When the full go-ahead is given, a joint operating company involving both countries would be set up, the Malay Mail quoted him as saying.

The MOT spokesman said Singapore has not heard from Malaysia officially on the proposed next steps towards forming a joint venture to operate the RTS Link, and looks forward to receiving an official response soon.

"Singapore remains committed to working closely with Malaysia to ensure the smooth implementation of the RTS Link Project," the spokesman added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2018, with the headline 'KL yet to propose date for HSR talks: S'pore ministry'. Print Edition | Subscribe