KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — DAP’s Lim Guan Eng today denounced the idea of a high-speed rail (HSR) project linking Kuala Lumpur with Johor Baru only, saying that the venture would not be financially sound if it excluded Singapore.
He was responding to a government announcement last week that a study on the Kuala Lumpur-Johor Baru link had been completed and will be submitted to the Cabinet for review.
“This is not feasible as it raises questions about the project’s financial sustainability as well as limiting its positive economic impact to the country, if the HSR does not stop in Singapore,” he said in a statement.
“Many question the wisdom of the government terminating the HSR project by stopping only in Johor Baru and not Singapore, as well as paying RM320 million loss in compensation cost despite its earlier public promise to continue with the HSR.”
The Bagan MP defended Pakatan Harapan (PH) for cancelling the KL-Singapore HSR project when it was in government, stressing that PH had not denied that the link to the island nation would bring economic benefits to Malaysian states, such as Johor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, along with the Klang Valley.
“PH had not questioned the rationale for the HSR project but had wanted to relook at the exorbitant pricing and the cost structure agreed to by the previous BN government.
“PH had proposed a better solution to be found through the cost savings of billions of ringgit from terminating these scandalous projects, and be returned to Sabah and the states involved in the form of much needed roads, water and infrastructure projects,” he added,
A HSR from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore was proposed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government in 2010, and Singapore agreed to jointly undertake the project in 2013.
Then, on May 29, 2018, then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the project would be cancelled, citing exorbitant costs and low potential returns.
However, on June 12, 2018, Dr Mahathir said that the project was only being postponed.
Following that, a government announcement in September 2018 said that an agreement had been signed between Malaysia and Singapore that the HSR linking the two would begin service in January 2031.
Nevertheless, Malaysia paid some RM320 million to Singapore in March this year, for costs incurred for the development of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, and in relation to the postponement.