While Malaysians and Singaporeans alike were excited to hear about the billion ringgit Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) in the beginning, they may not have to look forward to a direct route to and from anytime soon as the project has been ultimately scrapped a few days back.
Citing that both nations being unable to reach an agreement on several changes proposed by the Malaysian government, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong broke the news in a joint statement on December 31st last year.
“In light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Malaysian economy, the government of Malaysia had proposed several changes to the HSR project. Both governments had conducted several discussions with regard to these changes and had not been able to reach an agreement. Therefore, the HSR agreement lapsed on Dec 31, 2020.
“Both countries will abide by their respective obligations, and will now proceed with the necessary actions resulting from the termination of the HSR agreement,” said the statement, released in the morning of January 1st.
The termination was also confirmed by The Edge who called it in their article as “Malaysia to go it alone with HSR project, pay RM300m compensation to Singapore — source”.
Due to contract regulations, it is also understood that Malaysia is to compensate 300 million ringgit in result of the termination. Proposed back in 2010, the change of government in 2018 and COVID-19 pandemic had also put the project on halt at one time and went pretty stale after that.
Changes proposed by the Malaysian government was to change the alignment to link HSR to KLIA and it didn’t sit well with our counterparts; ultimately, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed took to Facebook to further explain the cause of termination and reasoning behind it.
“Other changes proposed by Malaysia include that the HSR be connected and integrated with the available transportation network in the country,” he said in a lengthily post.
“The proposed new structure could also help the country avoid committing RM60 billion for 30 years, apart from providing the government with flexibility in terms of funding for the HSR project.
“In addition, the government also proposed several other changes, including to the design of the rail stations, which would help reduce almost 30 per cent in expenses for the project,” he added.
“Our Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) also had a video conference with his Singaporean counterpart (Lee Hsien Loong) on Dec 2 last year. However, we failed to reach an agreement (over the proposed changes to the HSR project).
“As an individual who was directly involved in the discussions for the project over the past six months, (I can tell you that) we had done our best for the interest of the country,”.
Sources say that Malaysia is to switch their focus towards undertaking the project with a new alignment stretching from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru instead of joining both the Southeast Asian capitals and offering another alternative to one of the busiest flight roads in the world.