KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Transport Minister Anthony Loke reprimanded The Star newspaper today over its report claiming Malaysia has requested another postponement to the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS).
The project was delayed for three months at the end of September and Putrajaya is due to make its decision today, but the newspaper cited sources as saying this will be deferred by six months.
“This is totally MISLEADING and unethical journalism! You run a front-page news based on unverified and unnamed sources?
“The prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is scheduled to make the announcement on RTS at 3 pm today in JB!” Loke wrote on Facebook.
The newspaper claimed official sources informed it that the federal government asked Singapore for the extension in order to consider cheaper alternatives to the proposed system.
It also reported another unnamed official as saying the purported postponement request might prompt Singapore to exercise its right to backdate claims for damages over the delays.
As Loke pointed out, the prime minister will be in Johor Baru this afternoon to announce the government’s decision on the project.
The deal, which was originally drawn up between the former Barisan Nasional administration and the Singapore government, is crucial for connectivity between the republic and Malaysia’s Southern Economic Corridor Iskandar Malaysia, and to resolve long-standing traffic congestion on the Causeway.
The resumption was predicted after Dr Mahathir confirmed that Putrajaya will proceed with the RTS Link during the launch of the National Transport Policy in Kuala Lumpur on October 17.
When tabling Budget 2020, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng also said the federal government “intends to proceed” with the RTS as a long-term solution to address cross-border congestion.