HSR project might be revisited when economy is more stable

By BERNAMA / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, which could have benefitted property projects along its route, may be revisited by the government later, said CBRE-WTW group MD Foo Gee Jen.

He opined that when the local economy becomes more stable, the government might decide to reconsider the project, however, at the moment, the priority is on combating Covid-19 and sustaining economic growth.

“I believe there will be a negative impact due to the cancellation, but I believe we need to prioritise where we put our money, such as for growth and sustainability.

“My take on the HSR (project) is (that it is) not being called off, but temporarily being put on the back burner. Something for us to revisit when the economy allows for it,” he said during the virtual media briefing on the Asia Pacific Real Estate Market Outlook 2021 report yesterday.

Meanwhile, CBRE-WTW director Jonathan Lo said the cancellation would have a negative impact on most of the upcoming projects along the planned route and stations, specifically those which were meant to benefit from its spillover effects.

He said the western corridor would be most affected, noting that due to the closure of international borders, Iskandar Malaysia’s retail sector had been badly hit.

“The retail sector in Iskandar Malaysia is dependent on Singapore shoppers. The pandemic has resulted in salary cuts, as well as economic and financial instability.

“This is going to be a challenge for most of the local businesses, including (property) developers, as people are more hesitant to consider big-ticket purchases,” he said. On Jan 1, the Malaysia and Singapore governments jointly announced the cancellation of the 350km rail line project after failing to reach an agreement on the proposed changes by the Dec 31, 2020, deadline.

The bilateral agreement for the project’s development, signed with Singapore on Dec 13, 2016, was based on the aspiration for closer economic integration between the two countries.

Its construction was deferred until May 2020 after Malaysia’s 14th General Election, following a review of several of the government’s investment commitments,

The two governments later postponed the project for a second time to Dec 31, 2020.