The decision on who will win the bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project will be made in an open and transparent manner and based on many conditions, including reliability and the track record of bidders.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said a systematic evaluation process was necessary.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after their retreat here, Lee said it was not unusual to evaluate a range of factors in a complex project.
“It is not just the price but the reliability, the condition of financing, the track record and your confidence in the company over what they have done elsewhere.
“There is a process. In the end, there is a judgment which we will do rapidly but the process is transparent and open.
“I think people will have confidence that this is a judgment made in good faith and without prejudice to any party and without intending to favour any side,” he said.
“When you have a competition, you must have a winner and a non-winner,” he said.
The leaders were asked on the criteria to decide on the company for the project following Nikkei Asean Review report saying the Japanese government would help a Japanese corporate consortium win a bid for the HSR project.
The report said there were plans to provide financial support through a public-private fund.
The Malaysian and Singaporean governments started a bidding process last month for the project, which sets out to build a 350km rail line to cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes.
Najib said the assessment would be comprehensive and not just a matter of technicalities and cost.
“It will also take into account the longevity of the project, maintenance cost and especially local content.
“It is important to maximise local content so that people will see that the project will have tangible benefits even during the construction period,” he added.
Both leaders expressed happiness that the good relations in the last few years had resulted in productive results and would look at new areas of cooperation to move the agenda forward.
On water, both leaders agreed that it was becoming critical for Johor and Singapore with increasing demand and new development areas like Iskandar.
“Malaysia will look into Singapore’s proposal on a joint hydrometric modelling study of the Johor River to examine measures to conserve Linggiu Reservoir stock,” he said.
The leaders, in their joint statement, reaffirmed the importance of undertaking the necessary measures to ensure reliable and adequate water supply from the Johor River as provided for in the 1962 Water Agreement.
Both countries also affirmed the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement, under which Singapore is given the full and exclusive right to draw up to a maximum of 250 million gallons of water per day from the Johor River.