Azmin to discuss HSR with Singapore before month-end

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture) said he will discuss the Malaysia-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) project with his Singaporean counterpart before the end of the month.

Azmin said he had sat for a briefing with Attorney General Tommy Thomas and presented the HSR case to the Cabinet last Wednesday.

“We will announce the situation to the public in a few days as well. I will be meeting with my counterpart in Singapore very soon to discuss the details, hopefully before the end of the month,” he said at the European Union (EU)-Malaysia Trade and Investment Forum 2018 yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.

Azmin said he has been communicating with the Singapore government on the matter.

Last week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed the government has not issued a full notice on the cancellation of the HSR.

Dr Mahathir said while Singapore has not received a full notice regarding the project’s axing, they are aware of the government’s plans.

As of last week, Singapore announced that it has expanded S$250 million (RM740.9 million) on the project and is likely to spend S$40 million more by year-end.

Cheaper options had also been presented to the government, such as to upgrade existing rail infrastructures with an estimated price tag of RM20 billion versus the RM70 billion expected for the mega-project inked in 2016.

Meanwhile, Azmin said the country will increase its efforts to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs).

“We want to encourage quality investments, particularly greenfield investments that contributes to real value creation that spurs productivity, innovation and complements our business ecosystem.

“We also want to witness transfer of technology, generation of employment opportunities and local small and medium enterprises moving up the value chain.”

The EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday held its annual forum, addressing key issues on EU-Malaysia trade and investment with the government.

It also provided recommendations on how to improve business environment for sectors such as aerospace, business integrity, green buildings, healthcare, human resources, logistics, wine and spirits, and intellectual property rights.

Currently, EU is the second-largest investor in Malaysia and the secondlargest destination for Malaysian investment abroad.

As of the first quarter of 2018, FDI from the EU totalled RM107 million, while Malaysia invested RM59 billion in Europe, mainly in services.