Malaysia to negotiate high-speed rail link deferment with Singapore

JULY 20, 2018 - 1:31 PM

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIA will look to negotiate the deferment of a high-speed rail (HSR) project with Singapore, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday.

Dr Mahathir said previously he would cancel the rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and would talk with Malaysia's southern neighbour about any compensation that has to be paid.

"The problem is that if we just unilaterally discard the agreement, we have to pay a very high compensation," Dr Mahathir told reporters in parliament on Thursday, adding that given Malaysia's financial situation, the project has to be deferred.

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Having studied the contract, it was decided that "we will have to do it at a later date or we may have to reduce the price", Dr Mahathir added.

"But the reduction of the price, I think it is very difficult as far as we can make out, so it will have to be deferred."

Hours after Dr Mahathir's remarks, Malaysian economic minister Azmin Ali said on Thursday that he would renegotiate all the components involved which bloated HSR's costs when he visits Singapore later this month.

"Everything. We will look and revisit all the terms and conditions in the agreement. Everything. The entire project needs to be reviewed," he told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby.

"PM has made it very clear today that it's not about cancelling the project. We need to review the entire project."

The HSR project, first proposed by Malaysia in 2013, is a 350km line that would have slashed rail travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes. REUTERS