KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — The government’s estimated RM110 billion cost for the Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Railway (MYHSR) includes expenses and items not disclosed by the previous administration, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali told Parliament today.
Azmin also accused the previous Barisan Nasional government of a cover-up in its previous claims that the project would cost between RM55 to RM74 billion, when responding to Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.
“The cost that Ayer Hitam raised was RM55 billion but among many things there were hidden costs that the previous government did not disclose to the public. So the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is disclosing the whole cost of the project.
“We need to see whether the government can afford this project under the current economic situation.”
He added that Putrajaya will discuss with Singapore on how to proceed.
MCA deputy president Wee asked Azmin to state how the Pakatan Harapan government arrived at the RM110 billion figure as opposed to the cost previously projected by BN.
Earlier, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (Pekan) also disputed the accuracy of the figure by pointing out that the international tender process was not yet complete.
“The fact of the matter is the international tender for the project will only be closed on December 28 this year. So we don’t even know how much the project will cost us and we know if it’s an international tender, it will be very competitive.
“We will have nations giving loans at 0 per cent or 0.1 per cent rates. I want to know, how can the minister state the price is RM110 billion when the tender has not closed yet,” asked Najib, who was the finance minister who oversaw the deal.
Azmin then replied that the RM110 billion figure was an estimate of the entire project cost and the government’s decision was based upon the advice given by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
He then took a jab at Najib and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who first raised the issue, saying the former PM appeared to be more effective at playing the latter’s role.