The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government wanted the ability to directly select vendors for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project without the involvement of Singapore, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak alleged today.
He claimed in a Facebook page that this was a departure from his initial vision for both countries to be responsible for the construction of the railway in order to prevent possible abuse or irregularity.
In a Facebook post, Najib cited Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung’s remarks that had proposed to remove an assets company that the two countries previously agreed on, adding that the Singaporeans were not happy with this move.
“They (PN) want to choose the contractor and vendors for the HSR train through direct negotiation without Singapore interfering with it.
“The Singapore government was not happy with the request to have the HSR train end at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport). Once they alight there, they will have to switch to the ERL train owned by YTL (Corporation) which is half the speed of the HSR to get to the city.
“I find this decision odd. Visitors from Singapore would want to get to the city as fast as possible and not go to KLIA and then have the change into a slower train to get to Kuala Lumpur. If they wanted to go to the airport to board a plane they would do so at their own airport,” Najib posted on Facebook today.
“Why would they want to ride an HSR train to KLIA,” he asked.
Najib also said the Singapore government terminated the project because it did not agree with two of the PN government’s requests, and not because of Covid-19.
This meant Malaysia must now pay as much as RM1 billion in compensation to Singapore, he said.
“Following that, the PN government has now extended the ERL train to Johor Baru, calling it the HSR KL-Johor Baru, at medium speed at the same cost as the cancelled HSR KL-Singapore project.
“The company operating this train line, ERL, is set to lose a lot of money due to the loss of revenue from Singapore, but the PN government has also agreed to pay them compensation every year.
Earlier, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the HSR project was cancelled due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s economy.
He said the situation has forced the government to re-evaluate the HSR project.
Last Friday, Malaysia and Singapore both issued separate statements to announce the automatic termination of the HSR Bilateral Agreement.
Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said Putrajaya had allowed the HSR bilateral agreement to be terminated and has agreed to compensate the island republic for costs already incurred in fulfilling its obligations under the agreement.
Malaysia, on the other hand, said it would honour its obligations under the HSR Bilateral Agreement with Singapore and pay compensation. – MMO