Dr M says won’t reconsider decision to drop HSR

Mahathir confirms high-speed rail project with Singapore to be scrapped - The Jakarta Post

The cancellation came as an investigation into corruption tightened around former prime minister Najib Razak, who lost the 9 May general election to 92-year-old Mahathir, himself a previously serving prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

"The MRT3 project will be discontinued", he told reporters, after chairing the second weekly Cabinet meeting here today. Asked if Singapore had been informed of his decision, he said: "I don't know".

When Najib's officials filed for the review a year ago, some experts suggested the move was an attempt by the then premier to stir up nationalist fervour against its conveniently smaller neighbour Singapore ahead of the polls.

In her fundraising campaign Nik Shazarina Bakti, 27, said Malaysians in the past had given jewellery, money and valuables to help raise funds in seeking independence from Britain. Malaysia's unilateral decision not to proceed with construction means it may now have to compensate Singapore.

Some Singaporean netizens have expressed disappointment by Malaysia's plans to axe the deal but they also appear to be empathetic to the reasons.

When questioned about the compensation that needed to be paid, he said he "supposed" it would be RM500mil. But as of now, the decision has been made to cancel the project.

"We have borrowed too much money".

"So we can not (be able) to pay so much money if we continue with the project".

"So we are not only looking at the [high speed rail project] but also mega projects which cost billions of dollars".

"The most important thing for us now is to reduce the amount of borrowings by the government".

Mott MacDonald, and WSP are some of the European and North American companies to have won roles on the ambitious project, which has been the subject of a formal agreement between the two countries since December 2016.

The Singapore government has also invested a fair bit in planning and early projections for the project such as engaging planners and civil engineers, said Azman Jaafar, deputy managing partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and chairman of Asean Plus Group.

Singapore did not have an immediate reaction to Wednesday's announcement on the rail project. "But a lot of discussions and negotiations have to be made with the Singapore government", he said.

There is no official cost estimate for the project, but Malaysian officials say it would have cost up to 60 billion ringgit. Minister of Finance, Lim Guan Eng ends the statement by expressing their honest appreciation and gratitude to all Malaysians for all their support and concern.

The HSR project which was due to be completed in 2026, cuts across four states in Malaysia and sought to stimulate development along the corridor and create economic clusters around the seven stations from Bandar Malaysia, Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka to Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, before crossing to Singapore.

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