Johor backs Putrajaya’s call for new Malaysia-Singapore HSR talks

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad (left) during his visit to the Johor Cerebral Palsy Association in Johor Baru today. November 30, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan
Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad (left) during his visit to the Johor Cerebral Palsy Association in Johor Baru today. November 30, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan

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JOHOR BARU, Nov 30 — The Johor government today welcomed the federal government’s bid to revive the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, which both sides had terminated earlier this year.

Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said discussions need to start from the beginning as it will be a new agreement and not a review or amendment of the previous agreement.

He said Johor will support all measures and efforts that touch on the development of the proposed HSR, regardless of whether the last station stops in Johor or in Singapore.

“We will take full advantage of the opportunities available when the HSR is developed as most of the line would be in the state, and this would benefit the people and its economy,” Hasni told reporters after handing over contributions to the Johor Cerebral Palsy Association at its premises here today.

Hasni also expressed hopes that there won’t be any political impediment to the new HSR project.

He noted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s positive response when Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob raised the HSR again in his first official visit to the republic since becoming prime minister.

“The transport ministries of the two countries would discuss the matter, and Singapore hoped to receive more details from Malaysia on it,” said Hasni, who is also the Benut assemblyman.

Yesterday, Lee said the republic was open to accepting Malaysia’s new proposal to build the high-speed rail line between the two countries.

On January 1, Malaysia and Singapore jointly announced the termination of the HSR project when the two countries failed to reach an agreement on Malaysia’s proposed changes before the project agreement expired on December 31, 2020.

Two months later, Malaysia announced a compensation payout of RM320,270519.24 to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project and in connection with the extension of its postponement.

On the success of yesterday’s Land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) route, Hasni said it will be a guide for the opening of more categories of travellers between Malaysia and Singapore.

He said among the positive impact of the VTL opening, especially for the land sector, was the opportunity to visit the republic and see the commitment of the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to ensure the smooth reopening of the border between the two countries.

“The Johor government hopes that the category of travellers that will be allowed to cross the border can be added and not only limited to long-term travel pass holders or citizens of both countries returning to their countries of origin.

“These are all indications that the opening of the border will be further enhanced in the near future,” he said.

On another matter, Hasni also said he hopes that the newly detected Covid-19 variant from South Africa named Omicron will not hamper the VTL routes as both Malaysia and Singapore have just loosened their border restrictions.

He expressed confidence that both countries will be able to manage and maintain daily travellers back to pre-pandemic figures.

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