Dr M: Malaysia seeking cheaper HSR option before suspension expires next year

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad after a joint news conference in Putrajaya April 9, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad after a joint news conference in Putrajaya April 9, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, April 9 ― Malaysia is looking into ways to further cut cost of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Following the 9th bilateral Leaders' Retreat, Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya is grateful to Singapore for agreeing to suspend the project until May 31, 2020, and will further review its options with the republic before that date.

“Currently Malaysia is exploring proposals with the aim of cost reduction and we'll discuss further with Singapore before the end of the suspension period on May 31, 2020,” Dr Mahathir told a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong here.

In response, Lee said Singapore still viewed the HSR positively.

“But we understand why Malaysia needs time to review the cost and the alternative options,” said Lee.

“We look forward to receiving a proposal from Malaysia soon, so as to be able to work with them to find a way forward that will work for both countries.”

On September 5, 2018, Singapore agreed to suspend the construction of the project until the end of May 2020.

As a result of Malaysia’s request for the deferment, it agreed to pay an abortive cost of S$15 million (RM45.6 million) to Singapore by January 31 of this year.

A legal document was exchanged in Putrajaya between the two countries to vary the HSR Bilateral Agreement based on the new understanding.

The HSR Express Service between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is now expected to commence by January 1, 2031 instead of the original start date of December 31, 2026.