According to Dr M, his administration has to exercise caution in announcing major decisions
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS
THE federal government has not issued a full notice on the cancellation of the high-speed rail (HSR) project to Singapore, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) confirmed.
The political veteran, who turned 93 yesterday, said his administration has to exercise caution in announcing major decisions as financial markets have so far reacted negatively to news related to the country’s RM1 trillion debt.
Recent data indicate that foreign outflows hit a 10-week selling spree last week with the amount sold at RM704.3 million.
Since Pakatan Harapan’s historic win in the May 9 general election, however, nearly RM7 billion have been offloaded by foreign investors.
“When we make an announcement, there are people who will react negatively, sothatiswhywehavetobe very careful of what we say.
“As far as the Singapore government is concerned, we have not given them a full notice yet, but they know what we want to do,” Dr Mahathir told a media briefing at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Putrajaya.
Singapore had sent a diplomatic note on June 1 to clarify Malaysia’s position on the RM110 billion HSR project.
The Singapore government said it would also seek compensation on costs incurred should the 350km rail project be shelved.
This will be done in accordance with the bilateral agreement and international law.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the country has spent more than S$250 million (RM740.06 million) on the HSR project as at end of May this year, and this includes costs for consultancies to design the infrastructure, manpower and land acquisition.
In a parliamentary session on Monday, Khaw said Singapore incurred more than S$6 million for the project in June and the same amount is expected for July. He added that these costs will increase significantly over time, with S$40 million expected to be spent from August to the end of 2018.
“This is actual money that has already been spent, our taxpayers’ money. We can recover value for some of the expenditure, even if the HSR project does not proceed. But a significant amount which has been spent will be completely wasted expenditure if the project does not proceed,” Khaw said.
On May 28, Dr Mahathir confirmed that Malaysia will scrap the Kuala Lumpur (KL)-Singapore HSR deal, saying it would not benefit the country.
He said the decision is final and expects the government to pay up to RM500 million in penalty.
The HSR was projected to commence operations by Dec 31, 2026. The rail link would have eight stations — namely the Bandar Malaysia, Sepang-Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri stations in Malaysia, and the Jurong East station in Singapore.
If completed, the project would cut travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes, compared to four hours by car.