HSR project still on hold, govt to compensate Singapore, says Dr M

CYBERJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the high-speed rail (HSR) project between Malaysia and Singapore which was suspended last year is still on hold pending talks between the two governments.

“For the time being, we are not going to build.

“We have asked for two years before we talk again,” the prime minister said. “At the moment, we have not given any contracts. So we have to compensate Singapore.”

Mahathir had said earlier today that the HSR might eventually go from Johor Bahru to Penang, or run along the border with Thailand.

When asked if Singapore would be agreeable with the HSR stretching to the Thai border, he said: “I don’t think they have even considered that. They are just thinking about KL.”

He added that a route from Johor Bahru to Penang would only be considered “when the time comes”.

“At the moment, we are not in need of such alignment. Eventually, perhaps,” he said.

The HSR project was suspended on Sept 5 last year in a supplementary agreement signed between Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali and Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

The agreement saw the project deferred until May 31, 2020. If by then Malaysia does not proceed with the project, it will also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore in fulfilling the HSR bilateral agreement.

In July last year, Singapore said it would seek to recover over S$250 million (US$181.66 million) in costs incurred to date should Malaysia cancel the project.