Japan claims anchor role in HSR bid

hsr-japanKUALA LUMPUR: Japan is making an all-out bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) contract to construct Southeast Asia’s largest ever infrastructure project.

Japanese ambassador to Malaysia, Makio Miyagawa, said the package featured the best HSR technology via the first and world-renowned high-speed railway system, the Shinkansen, plus total transfer of technology and local vendor development which would benefit Malaysian and Singaporean companies, including small and medium enterprises.

“We will be offering our best suited technologies to Malaysians and Singaporeans, as well as full-fledged training for the officials, operators and engineers of both countries so that they can start operations by themselves from day one.

“Japan would also like to offer the most comprehensive financial package, which would certainly help the two nations reduce as much of their financial burden as possible in introducing this system,” Miyagawa told Bernama in an interview.

Bids for the HSR, described as a game-changing joint-venture between Malaysia and Singapore, must be submitted by the middle of this year with the contract expected to be awarded by year-end.

Other bidders for the project may include those from China, South Korea and France.

The 350km HSR is intended to cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes and stimulate the economy of several localities along the route. It is projected to start operations around 2026.

Malaysia’s MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd and Singapore’s HSR Private Ltd announced on Dec 20 last year that they would start accepting bids for a railway “assets company”, which will be responsible for designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining all rail assets.

Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani reportedly said the project, which will have eight stations, would cost around RM50 billion-RM60 billion.

Miyagawa said Japan’s engagement posture would tie closely with the country’s long-standing philosophy of economic assistance, particularly in Asia.

“The philosophy of our economic assistance has all along been in such a way that Japan has assisted the recipient nations to stand on their own feet.

“It would not like to dominate the benefits but to share them. It would withdraw from the operation when you are ready to take over.

“If you would like us to stay on for some years, we would. It is not Japan’s way to win (a contract) and run away. That would be irresponsible.”

He said Japan had already been offering technology, human capital and financial resources to enable its companies to collaborate with companies in Malaysia and Singapore so that they and the private sector could advance together.

“In the high-speed rail system, our government and private sector would be ready and are very keen to collaborate with the local industries in Malaysia and Singapore so that the gradual transfer of technology and human capital will succeed and will help newly-introducing technology nations like Malaysia and Singapore to operate the system right from the start,” Miyagawa added.

According to him, the project would reinvigorate and reenergise the economies of Malaysia and Singapore, linking the two cities as well as mega cities now prospering in Asia.

“The connectivity will increase and along the alignment, many cities will flourish. That is why we are very happy to participate in this project.”

He said Japan’s edge over other bidders should be viewed from the most important aspect in any public transport system, namely safety.

Here, he added, Japan had an impeccable record recognised worldwide.

“Japan invented the bullet train technology. The advantage of the Shinkansen is that it has been operating for almost 50 years without any fatal accident or human capital problems.

“This is the merit of the system which is based on the superiority of the hardware as well as the excellence of the software operations, based on the accumulated know-how of the engineers and operators in Japan,” he said.