Malaysia wants to negotiate a deferment of the country’s planned high speed rail (HSR) project with Singapore so it can avoid the issue of paying a compensation, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters outside parliament on Thursday (July 19).
He said: “The problem is that if we just unilaterally discard the agreement, we have to pay a very high compensation.”
Discussions will be held when Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali heads to Singapore by end July.
Dr Mahathir added: “We cannot say that we will never build this HSR but at this moment we don’t have the funds. We need to delay”.
After returning to power in May, he said the RM110 billion project will be scrapped to help cut back on Malaysia’s RM1 trillion national debt but backtracked a month later during an official trip to Tokyo when he suggested that it would be postponed instead.
The Straits Times reported that Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said earlier this month that Singapore has already spent S$250 million on the HSR and could even inject an additional S$40 million by year-end.
“This is actual money that has already been spent. We can recover value for some of the expenditure… But a significant amount which has been spent will be completely wasted expenditure if the project does not proceed,” he said.