HSR project has cost Singapore almost RM745mil so far

Singapore transport minister Khaw Boon Wan. - Photo from gov.sg

Singapore transport minister Khaw Boon Wan. - Photo from gov.sg

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Singapore has already spent more than S$250mil (RM744.2mil) on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, and is likely to expend another S$40mil (RM119mil) or so by year-end, its transport minister Khaw Boon Wan (pic) revealed in Parliament on Monday (July 9).

Replying to questions from several MPs on the status of the HSR, Khaw said that based on preliminary estimates, the costs incurred had "already exceeded S$250mil".

"This is actual money that has already been spent, our taxpayers money.

"We can recover value for some of the expenditure, even if the HSR project does not proceed. But a significant amount which has been spent, will be completely wasted expenditure, if the project does not proceed," he said.

Khaw said the expenditure included land acquisition, setting up of an infrastructure company – SG HSR Pte Ltd – and the formation of a team of more than 100 specialists in the company "to build, own, fund and maintain the HSR civil infrastructure in Singapore".

And by May, SG HSR had called five tenders to construct civil infrastructure within Singapore.

The minister said the bilateral agreement with Malaysia "provides for how compensation is to be dealt with".

He added that Singapore sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia on June 1 "to seek immediate clarification on Malaysia's position".

"To date, Singapore has still not received a reply from the Malaysian Government," he said, adding that public statements made by the Malaysian ministers, and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir

Mohamad – through various press interviews – on the termination of the project "have not been followed through with any official communication to us".

"At this point therefore, we have been left with no choice but to continue performing in accordance with the bilateral agreement, and thus continue to incur more costs," Khaw said.

In June, Singapore incurred more than S$6mil (RM17.86mil) and it expects to incur another S$6mil in July.

"These costs will increase rapidly with time," Mr Khaw said. "From August to end-December 2018, we will need to spend at least S$40mil more."

"Because the costs that we have incurred will add to the total amount of compensation, it is in Malaysia's own interest to officially inform us of its position on the HSR Project early, to minimise the amounts involved," Khaw pointed out.

He said he highlighted this consideration to Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Azmin Ali "when he called me on June 6". – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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