Guan Eng: PN’s disinterest in transparency led to RM320 million HSR loss

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Malaysia lost RM320 million for aborting the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project because Perikatan Nasional (PN) could not agree to open tenders and transparency, said Lim Guan Eng.

PN, said Lim, had wanted to make changes to the rail line, which was not agreed to by the Singapore government.

“Further, the termination of HSR and compensation highlights Muhyiddin Yassin’s lack of commitment towards open tender and transparency,” said the DAP secretary-general in a statement today.

The former finance minister noted that Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung’s statement had said that both the countries could not reach an agreement on the HSR project because Malaysia wanted to do away with the jointly-tendered asset company (AssetsCo).

“Ong added that through an open and transparent international tender, the AssetCo would have ensured accountability to both countries.”

He said the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government only questioned the pricing and cost structure agreed to by the Barisan Nasional government.

“The HSR project is not financially viable if its rail line does not pass through Singapore.

“Instead, Perikatan said that the project would continue in a different form by stopping in Johor Baru, not in Singapore.

Bernama

“If the HSR does not stop in Singapore, there is no doubt that Johor will be the greatest loser from the cancelled HSR project,” said the Bagan MP.

“At the moment the people of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor are still waiting for progress on the alternative project.

“Is the PN government still interested in running a government for the people’s benefit or engaging in a fratricidal civil war for political survival?” said Lim.

Yesterday, it was announced that Malaysia has paid S$102.8 million (RM320.27 million) to Singapore for costs incurred in the development of the HSR project, and in relation to the extension of its suspension.

The two countries reached an amicable agreement on the amount following a verification process by the Malaysian government.

This amount represents a full and final settlement in relation to the termination of the Bilateral Agreement on the HSR project on December 31, 2020, Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed and Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a joint statement yesterday.

The project was signed in 2016 but frozen in 2018 after PH won the general election. The new government had asked for and received a deferral of two years from Singapore, paying S$15 million for the favour.

The PN government, which replaced PH in March last year, then asked for an extended deferment, which Singapore agreed to until December 31 last year.

Putrajaya made its decision not to go ahead with the bilateral project two weeks before the deadline. The plan now is to proceed with the rail link but with the track ending in Johor.

Ong in January revealed the main stumbling block to the project was Malaysia’s demand for the removal of the assets company AssetsCo, which would have supplied the train system and managed operations of the cross-border rail link for both countries. – TMI