Ridiculous to revive HSR after compensating Singapore RM320m, says ex-finance minister

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Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng says Malaysia has become a global laughing stock for suggesting the revival of a High Speed Rail (HSR) link with Singapore that it previously paid the island-state RM320 million to terminate. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng says Malaysia has become a global laughing stock for suggesting the revival of a High Speed Rail (HSR) link with Singapore that it previously paid the island-state RM320 million to terminate. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — Malaysia has become a global laughing stock for suggesting the revival of a High Speed Rail (HSR) link with Singapore that it previously paid the island-state RM320 million to terminate, said former finance minister Lim Guan Eng.

The Bagan MP also warned that the project could be vulnerable to a lack of transparency and accountability, noting that Singapore’s transport minister Ong Ye Kung previously alleged the Malaysian government wanted to bypass the jointly-tendered asset company.

“Ong added that through an open and transparent international tender, the AssetCo would have ensured accountability to both countries. Clearly this lack of commitment to transparency and open tenders by the Malaysian government is disappointing.

“Will (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Ismail Sabri Yaakob now conform to open tenders and transparency under the revived KL-Singapore HSR as well as ensure that the cost structure is not excessive and disadvantageous to Malaysia?” Lim said in a statement today.

Yesterday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the republic was open to fresh proposals from Malaysia on the HSR project that both countries previously agreed to terminate.

Lee said both countries’ transport ministries would discuss the matter and Singapore looked forward to receiving more details from Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri later told reporters in Singapore that the discussions on reviving the HSR project would be carried out by the two transport ministries and the new proposal would be brought to the Cabinet.

Today, Lim noted that the Pakatan Harapan government had only delayed the HSR’s implementation as they wanted to scrutinise the exorbitant sums, pricing and cost structures.

However, the Perikatan Nasional government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin decided to pay the compensation and replace it with another project called the KL-Johor Baru HSR, he said.

“The HSR project is not financially viable and logistically impractical if its rail line stops in Johor Baru and does not pass through Singapore.

“There must be full accountability and transparency by demanding the resignation of ministers responsible for making the recommendation to terminate the KL-Singapore HSR that cost the country RM320 million.

“Muhyiddin Yassin has already resigned as prime minister and the ministers involved such as Minister of International Trade and Industry (Datuk Seri) Azmin Ali, Economic Affairs Minister

(Datuk Seri) Mustapa Mohamad and the Transport Ministry must explain,” he added.

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