Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail project formally postponed till May 2020

After much deliberation, the contentious issue of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project has been resolved as both parties have formally agreed to postpone the construction for two years until May 2020. Malaysia has also agreed to bearing the agreed costs of suspending the project.

Both the countries signed the documents on the new understanding at the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya today. Singapore was represented by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan while Malaysia was represented by its Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali.

During the signing ceremony, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and his Malaysian counterpart Wan Azizah Wan Ismail were also present.

According to the new agreement, the express service of the HSR is expected to start by January 1, 2031 instead of December 31, 2026.

Transport Minister of Singapore Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali shake hands after signing the agreement to suspend the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail Project to 31 May 2020, in the presence of Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir, DPM Dr Wan Azizah, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, DPM of Singapore Teo Chee Hean and Foreign Minister of Singapore Vivian Balakrishnan. With this, the HSR Express Service will now commence in January 2031 instead of the original date of 31 December 2026. Photo courtesy: Facebook page of Khaw Boon Wan
Transport Minister of Singapore Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali shake hands after signing the agreement to suspend the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail Project to 31 May 2020, in the presence of Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir, DPM Dr Wan Azizah, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, DPM of Singapore Teo Chee Hean and Foreign Minister of Singapore Vivian Balakrishnan. With this, the HSR Express Service will now commence in January 2031 instead of the original date of 31 December 2026. Photo courtesy: Facebook page of Khaw Boon Wan

In addition to this, Malaysia will also have to pay abortive costs amounting to about SGD15 million before the end of January 2019 for suspending the project.

However, if Malaysia fails to start the project by May 31, 2020, it will also shoulder the agreed costs incurred by Singapore in fulfilling the HSR Bilateral Agreement.

The High-Speed Rail project is a 350km line that would have slashed rail travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes from about four hours by car.

After the signing ceremony, Azmin said, “We have all worked tirelessly in order to bring about a resolution that is mutually beneficial. Without doubt, this agreement would not have happened if not for our strong commitment to bilateral cooperation between our two countries.”

“I am confident that this spirit will see us through the final fruition of the Kuala-Lumpur Singapore High-Speed Rail project,” he added.

Transport Minister of Singapore Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali jointly adressing a press conference in Putrajaya after the singing the agreement. Photo courtesy: Twitter@/AzminAli
Transport Minister of Singapore Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali jointly adressing a press conference in Putrajaya after the singing the agreement. Photo courtesy: Twitter@/AzminAli

“Many Singaporeans had been looking forward to the realisation of this project and we remain committed to this project. I understand why Malaysia had to suspend the development of the HSR,” said Khaw while talking with the media persons.

Notably, HSR was among the several projects approved by the previous Malaysian government that have come under review following the Pakatan Harapan's historic victory in the May general election.

Shortly after the election, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced that HSR project would be scrapped entirely. However, he later changed stance and said that the project would be deferred instead.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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