Kuala Lumpur — Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the country did not need to wait for Singapore to proceed with the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, noting many other countries were interested in the project.
In his keynote address for his party’s (Bersatu) fourth annual general assembly on Dec 19, Mr Muhyiddin claimed that countries like Thailand, China, and the Indo-China region were interested in partnering with Malaysia for an HSR project.
“A private consortium can be created to build the project from the south to the north of the country, funded entirely by the private sector including the cost of land acquisition,” he said, reported Malaysiakini.
Mr Muhyiddin highlighted in his speech that he decided to end the HSR project agreement with Singapore because the previous contract under the Barisan National’s government had “biased terms” to the point of threatening Malaysia’s sovereignty.
He mentioned one example of Singapore’s alleged control of AssetsCo, which Mr Muhyiddin said would have been in charge of the project’s operations in Malaysia.
“With the termination of the HSR agreement with Singapore, we have restored our country’s sovereignty,” said Mr Muhyiddin.
“Without Singapore’s involvement, we have full control over the execution of strategic infrastructure projects in the country, and we can make decisions to protect the interests of our country without foreign interference,” he added.
Meanwhile, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, also the one who brokered the HSR project with Singapore, took to Facebook to criticise Mr Muhyiddin’s statements.
Mr Najib compared Singapore with Bangkok, noting the distance between Johor Bahru and Singapore is 20 kilometres, whereas Kuala Lumpur is 1,400 kilometres away from Bangkok.
“Does he not understand how to balance out the huge cost with economic returns?” asked Mr Najib.
Singapore open to fresh proposals
The terminated HSR project had entailed a 350 km rail line with seven stations, expected to cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes compared to the current estimated four hours by car and about three to five hours (travel to and from the airport, check-in process, boarding, and other airport procedures) by air.
Mr Najib and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong entered a legally-binding bilateral agreement on the project in Putrajaya in December 2016.
However, after several discussions, both countries could not reach an agreement before the Dec 31, 2020 deadline, which was the final extension for discussions.
As a result, Malaysia “has to compensate Singapore for costs already incurred by Singapore in fulfilling its obligations under the HSR project in accordance with the parties’ agreement,” said Singapore’s Ministry of Transport.
Then Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that Singapore had spent more than S$270 million on the project, including consultancy services and manpower costs.
To date, Malaysia has already paid Singapore S$15 million due to delays in project development.
Mr Lee also announced on Nov 29 this year that Singapore is open to rediscussing the project.
“I responded to the prime minister that Singapore and Malaysia had previously reached an agreement to terminate the HSR projects, and this has been amicably settled and closed. Nevertheless, Singapore is open to fresh proposals from Malaysia on the HSR project,” said Mr Lee. /TISG
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Source : https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/singapore/msia-doesnt-need-to-wait-for-spore-to-resume-hsr-project-thailand-china-etc-interested-—-former-pm-muhyiddin/ar-AAS2ElF787