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HSR project: Malaysia’s economic affairs minister to lead delegation to Singapore for talks
[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said on Wednesday he will lead a delegation to Singapore soon to have a discussion on the high-speed rail (HSR) project and also to safeguard the diplomatic relationship between both countries.
He said the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) has examined the bilateral agreement between both nations and that there are clauses that allow either Malaysia or Singapore to opt out of the HSR project.
Datuk Seri Azmin said according to the feedback from the AGC, the matter must be resolved based on the laws, which also involves bilateral negotiations.
"We are looking at all the available options. The bilateral agreement on the HSR provides for either party to cancel the project. This however, is subjected to the terms and conditions of the agreement," he said in parliament.
"I must stress that any agreements inked must be fair and just to both parties," said Mr Azmin.
He was replying to opposition leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was elected president of Umno recently, who had asked what aspects are being examined after the Malaysian government said the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur HSR project was being reviewed.
To another question from former prime minister Najib Razak, Mr Azmin said that the RM110 billion (S$37.05 billion) is an estimated costing.
Mr Najib had asked how the government arrived at the RM110 billion price tag for the project when international tenders for the 350km-long project will only end this December.
"The open tenders will be looked at and decided by both Governments, which means that the exact cost of the project is not known as the tender is still open.
"When there are international tenders, it will be more competitive. So how did the Government come to the conclusion that the project will cost RM110 billion," asked Mr Najib.
He also asked if there were impact studies done on the socio-economic effects with the cancellation of the HSR project.
To this, Mr Azmin said that the costing was done by both his ministry and the Finance Ministry and maintained that "it was just costing" at the moment.
"Of course in any tender processes, there will be some savings. This is why from the beginning, Pakatan Harapan has always asked for all projects to be done via open tender.
"Secondly on the impact studies, that has always been Pakatan's principle, but at this level, based on the advice from the AGC, we must discuss and look at the agreements because our stand is that no project should burden the country," he added.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK