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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed today the Perikatan Nasional government planned to pay annual compensation to a private company following the termination of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) which is widely speculated to be replaced with a local HSR line.
Najib, who did not name the company, also said he was informed that the highest echelons of the government have already agreed to launch a domestic KL-Johor Baru HSR to replace the terminated KL-SG HSR with a similar overhead cost.
He also said the government has already selected the technologies involved and named a “crony” private company as the main contractor cum operating company without any tender.
“The PN government has already planned to pay yearly compensation to the operating company since the HSR will not be profitable in the long run due to reduced passenger traffic and lowered fare revenue if Singapore is excluded,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
He said it would be heart-breaking if the PN government continues its plan to replace the cancelled HSR project with a domestic line that would not be beneficial to foreign investments, while the country is saddled with paying compensation annually since the operating company would be operating at a loss.
“Such is a model of crony projects during the time of PM4 where the government needed to sustain annual compensations and bail-outs after bail-outs for private transportation companies,” he added, subtly referring to political rival Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Stressing that Malaysia stands to owe billions of ringgit following the termination, Najib said studies have shown that Malaysia could have reaped significant benefits from neighbouring Singapore.
He cited the success of Channel Tunnel—a 50.45-km railway tunnel between the island of Great Britain and the European mainland, also known as Eurotunnel—as a testament to the possible success of the now terminated HSR project.
“If travel time between our countries is made more efficiently and quickly with the HSR, more tourists from Singapore will visit Malaysia as compared to Malaysians visiting Singapore.
“The positive economic impact will reach trillions and trillions within the next 50 years as not just development within the tourism sector will intensify, but foreign investment and employment from Singapore as well through the connectivity of the two most capitals in the region,” he said.
Explaining further, Najib said the reason why Singapore wanted to continue with the project was because they wished to be part of a region-wide HSR network which was to be expanded to Thailand in the near future.
“Singapore wants to be involved with the vision of Asean integration which will attract more foreign investment to the region,” he said.
Najib also dispelled the claims that the project’s termination was due to Singapore’s insistence in disapproving the proposed route of the HSR through Kuala Lumpur International Airport which could affect Changi Airport.
“This is a very nonsensical excuse because Singaporeans want to visit KL directly, not KLIA,” he said.
He also pointed out that the ongoing Covid-19 crisis was the most suitable time to resume the project to stimulate the economy and provide employment due to cheaper raw materials and unemployment.
Malay Mail is seeking clarification and comments from Putrajaya and the relevant ministers over Najib’s claims.
Yesterday, Malaysia and Singapore both issued separate statements to announce the automatic termination of the HSR Bilateral Agreement.
Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said Putrajaya had allowed the HSR bilateral agreement to be terminated and has agreed to compensate the island republic for costs already incurred in fulfilling its obligations under the agreement.
Malaysia, on the other hand, said it would honour its obligations under the HSR Bilateral Agreement with Singapore and pay compensation.