PETALING JAYA: Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to extend the deferment of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project until the end of the year, says Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (pic).
In a press statement Sunday (May 31), the International Trade and Industry Minister said both governments have also agreed to resume discussions on the HSR infrastructure project with proposed changes in the commercial and technical aspects.
"I have been asked by the Cabinet to lead the Malaysian team in the discussions with the Singapore government on this project.
"The Government of Malaysia and the Government of Singapore have agreed to resume discussions on the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail infrastructure project in the near future.
"The discussions will encompass some of the proposed changes in the commercial and technical aspects of the project.
"This decision was arrived at after both sides mutually agreed to extend the deferment of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project to Dec 31,2020," said Azmin.
HSR is a postponed railway project to link Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Singapore via a high-speed rail line.
Previously, both governments had agreed to suspend the construction of the bilateral project until May 31,2020, to find the best way forward for the project.
The Malaysian Government has been reviewing the project with MyHSR Corp to identify cost reduction options, such as reviewing and optimising the alignment, station locations and business model.
"Malaysia had asked to extend the suspension period to allow both sides to discuss the changes they have in mind.
"We are giving their request serious consideration, ” Singapore’s Transport Minister, Khaw Boon Wan said in a Facebook post on Saturday (May 30).
On Sept 2018, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to suspend the construction of the HSR until May 2020 with Malaysia having to reimburse the republic S$15mil (RM45.1mil).
The amount was to be paid by January 2019, as stated in an agreement to amend the HSR bilateral agreement, based on a new understanding between the new Pakatan Harapan administration and Singapore.
In the event that the project does not proceed after the end of the suspension date, Malaysia will have to reimburse Singapore costs incurred in fulfilling the HSR agreement.
The agreement was then signed on behalf of Malaysia by Azmin while Singapore was represented by Khaw.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the HSR service is expected to start by Jan 1,2031, instead of Dec 31,2026.
The then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean witnessed the signing.
Dr Mahathir had previously said that the project would be postponed and not cancelled as Malaysia could not afford to pay the compensation due to Singapore if the project was cancelled.
He had initially expressed his desire to scrap the HSR project due to cost concerns after claiming that it had inherited more than RM1tril in debt from the previous Barisan Nasional administration.