SINGAPORE, May 29 2018 : Hope is mounting here that Malaysia should continue with the High Speed Rail (HSR) project that will link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by 90 minutes once the country is back on track, financially.
Yesterday’s announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the project will be scrapped has drawn public debate among netizens on social media.
“Need to slow down when your finance or economy is in trouble,” Richard Koh jotted his comments on a Facebook of one of the news outlet here.
Koh is hoping that not only HSR should link Kuala Lumpur and the republic in the future but also link the republic right up north to Penang.
“Once you are well to do, it is good to have the HSR all the way to Penang and beyond…..,” Koh wrote further.
Concurring Koh’s sentiment, Robert Lim hoped the Malaysian government could consider allowing a consortium comprising Malaysian companies to take over construction of the project instead of cancelling the HSR.
“Revise HSR from Penang to Singapore to eventually replace the aging KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu),” he wrote.
He named Genting Group, a Malaysian conglomerate, as one of the parties that could be included in the potential consortium.
During the announcement, Dr Mahathir, who was sworn in as Malaysia seventh Prime Minister 19 days ago, said Malaysia would have to pay RM500 million in compensation to Singapore for dropping the project.
The project, scheduled to be completed by 2026, was reportedly to cost Malaysia between RM50 billion and RM60 billion.
There were also noble suggestions from the public that Singapore waive the compensation.
“I believe that this is one great opportunity for Singapore to build stronger ties with Malaysia. That is, for Singapore to forgo the legal or whatever fees involved in the cancellation of the HSR project,” wrote Wah Ng.
“Malaysia and Singapore are like siblings and Malaysia is truly going through a financial tsunami.
“Although the forfeited amount, for breaking the project agreement with Singapore, is not small to give up, it will speak volumes about Singapore.
“..I believe by doing so the ruling party would gain a better standing not only among Singaporeans and the people in ASEAN,” wrote Ng at length.
However, Andrew Goh seemed to have a better idea, While he is against the idea of waiving the compensation as he said “these are taxpayers’ monies,” he suggested that “what can be negotiated is to grant a government-to-governemnt loan to Malaysia payable over a period of say, 10 to 20 years.”
“Alternatively, adjust the share structure (60 per cent and – 40per cent of the Malaysia-Singapore joint venture.”
Dr Mahathir said HSR was not beneficial to Malaysia because it was going to cost the country a huge sum of money and Malaysia would not make a single sen at all from it because it is a short track.
According to an estimate by UOB Kay Hian Malaysia Research, HSR could cost about RM40 million per km which includes the systems and the track.
The 350 km HSR project – with the Singapore portion covering 15 km — was scheduled to be completed by 2026.
In December 2016, Malaysia, under the previous administration, had signed the bilateral agreement on HSR with Singapore. – Bernama