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KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — China and Singapore will understand why Malaysia had to review the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) projects, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said.
Lim told Singapore broadcaster Channel News Asia that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has to deal with a debt problem of more than US$251 billion (RM1 trillion) due to alleged financial mismanagement by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, as well as problems from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“We are confident China understands our debt predicament and they’ll be willing to help us out, give us a helping hand,” Lim said.
“As far as the HSR is concerned, it’s scrapped for now as announced by the PM but in the future, that is something that we want to discuss with the government... In that sense, we’re talking about the possibility of deferring and discussing with our good neighbours Singapore to see how they can help us out of this debt predicament.”
Lim said, however, that Putrajaya may reassess the HSR project in future, perhaps a year or two from now.
“We also need to make all these repayments for some of these high-cost projects, for these scandals, and I’m sure Singapore would understand that this is not the moment for us to embark on high-cost projects such as the HSR,” he added.
A legally-binding agreement for the 350km rail deal was signed by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2016, with completion slated for 2026.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said it could cost Malaysia up to RM500 million to withdraw from the deal.