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Malaysia says it will axe high-speed railway to Singapore

01 June 2018

Mahathir said the 350-kilometer (218-mile) rail project slated to be completed by 2026 is too costly. "We'll make no money at all from this arrangement. We welcome their patriotic attitude and express our gratitude to them", he said at a press conference after chairing a meeting of the Cabinet at Perdana Putra here.

Najib said the figures were based on the World Bank's financial analysis and report projecting the growth of Malaysia's gross domestic product for this year and over the next few years.

Mahathir, who won a surprise election victory this month against Najib Razak's long-ruling coalition, is seeking to fix the country's finances, which he says deteriorated dramatically after the former government became embroiled in a huge financial scandal. It was to have seven dedicated stations in Malaysia and one in Singapore.

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But while it appears that the project was to have brought many benefits to the island republic, it would have done nothing for Malaysia, according to the new Pakatan Harapan led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad. For example, Singapore's Land Transport Authority had called for tenders for the design and construction of tunnels and associated facilities for Singapore's end of the HSR last month, with construction expected to start next year.

Jotting down his comments on the Facebook site of a news outlet, Richard Koh said there was a need to slow down some developments when Malaysia's finance and economy is "in trouble".

Dr Mahathir is seeking more fiscal space to fulfill election pledges that include reducing living costs and fuel subsidies after finding the state saddled with debt and contingent liabilities exceeding 1 trillion ringgit (S$337.2 billion). "Decisions clouded by emotions will only hurt the people", Najib said.

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On the possibility of the Singapore government raising issues about the planned cancellation, Dr. Mahathir said his administration will "listen to them". But of course, why we cancelled the project is because of affordability.

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

With his country's finances under strain, Mahathir said the decision was to "avoid being declared bankrupt" in an interview with the Financial Times published Monday, 28 May.

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However, Koh still hopes the HSR would link Kuala Lumpur and the republic and be extended to Malaysia's northern city of Penang.

Malaysia says it will axe high-speed railway to Singapore