KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said that it was not the right time and would be a waste of resources to revive the Malaysia-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project as it only covers a relatively short distance.
The former prime minister said that paying the hefty compensation of RM320 million to neighbouring Singapore already put the country behind, adding that after some thought, the HSR to cover a span of 200km may not actually be needed in the country.
“If you want to make the HSR popular, it must go a further distance. If it is a short distance, the time saved is very minimal. If you’re going to travel only 200km, that’s not much time that you save.
“So, why should people travel on an expensive train when they can travel by road or by other trains? When you want a HSR, it should go a long distance, say from Singapore to Penang, or Alor Setar, or the border of Thailand,” he said during a virtual discussion with the media.
He said that Malaysians prefer driving in the country when going long distances, as compared to taking the train, adding that the government needs to weigh the usefulness of the HSR and the needs of the country.
“If you find that the country does not need it yet, then don’t do it. The HSR is going to travel within Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It’s a very short distance, not much time saved.
“You can also fly, drive, so this is a very big investment,” he said, adding that the revival of the HSR also signals the revival of corruption in politics.
On January 1, Malaysia and Singapore jointly announced the termination of the HSR project as both countries failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia before the project agreement lapsed on December 31, 2020.
Later in March, Malaysia announced that it had paid S$102.8 million (RM318.45 million) to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project and in relation to the extension of its suspension.