Malaysia to negotiate deferment of HSR, cannot afford to compensate Singapore if Putrajaya pulls out of the agreement.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project may be postponed, not cancelled, as Putrajaya cannot afford to compensate Singapore.
“At the moment, we don’t have the funds. So if need be, we will put the project on hold,” he told reporters outside the Dewan Rakyat.
This followed Singapore’s statement earlier this month that it would seek RM743 million in compensation if the project was scrapped.
“Singapore wants to know the status of the project and our stance on the matter. But when we look at our financial situation, we cannot implement it.
“We need to study the implications and review the contract and cost of the project. We either have to postpone the project or reduce the cost, but it is difficult to bring down the cost.”
In May, Mahathir said Putrajaya would pull out of the HSR agreement with Singapore as it was an “unnecessary project”.
Singapore later said it was still waiting for official notification of Malaysia’s position on the project.
“We thought we couldn’t go ahead with that, but we studied the implications…studied the contract and the cost of it, we decided we have to do it at a later date or we may have to reduce the price.
“Reduction of the price is very difficult. As far as we can make out, it has to be deferred,” Mahathir said.
Yesterday, Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali revealed that the overall cost of the project stood at RM110 billion, not between RM54 billion and RM74 billion as projected by the previous government.
He said this was because the Barisan Nasional administration had not included the hidden costs.
Azmin is expected to discuss the rail project with Singapore by month end.