The government has been urged to explain in detail the previous administration’s decision to cancel the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, following reports that Malaysia is seeking to revive it.
Aziz Kaprawi, who served as deputy transport minister when the HSR was initiated in 2013, said there was “something fishy” about the cancellation of the project by the Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) government.
Fuelling his suspicion, he said, were allegations about the difference in costs – and revenue – between the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR and the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru HSR.
Recently, Umno’s Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub claimed to have received information of studies comparing both projects and questioned if the previous Cabinet had been presented with these figures.
He said the information showed that the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR would cost only RM3.6 billion (5.3%) more than the Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru HSR, but a link between the two countries would earn RM352 billion (61%) more in revenue over a span of 50 years.
Last year, the government led by Bersatu’s Muhyiddin Yassin announced the scrapping of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR, resulting in Putrajaya having to pay some RM320 million in compensation to Singapore.
Aziz, a former Umno MP for Sri Gading in Johor, said the estimated revenue figures cited by Jazlan for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR were correct as that was what the government had been presented with when the project was initiated.
“The government must be transparent with the data related to the project. If the data shared by Jazlan is indeed accurate, then we must ask why PN cancelled the project.
“What is the issue with spending RM3.6 billion more when in the long run, the people and the country benefit? Unless, of course, someone stood to benefit from the scrapping. That is why, to me, there is something fishy.”
He said it was important to link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore – two global cities – to spur the economy and tourism along the rail line whereas a Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru link would be a duplication of the double-tracking project between the two cities.
“I hope no government will continue with the Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru HSR idea. That is an idea from a failed government led by Muhyiddin. We must do what is best for all Malaysians,” he said. – FMT