Saturday 13 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 2): The Malaysian government is still searching for a suitable financing method for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project before bringing it to the Singapore government for further discussions, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

As of now, the Malaysian government has not initiated any discussions regarding the HSR with the Singapore government, even during the recent two-day Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat, according to Loke.

"The Malaysian government's stance is that we want to explore a new financing model to determine if the private sector can accommodate the capital expenditure (capex) for construction as well as operation services," Loke said in response to an interjection from Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (PN-Pagoh) during his winding up speech for Budget 2024 in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday.

Loke emphasised that one of the Malaysian government's principles for the HSR project is that it must connect point-to-point, from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. If it only reaches Johor Bahru, it would not be viable.

"Therefore, to connect KL to Singapore, the project must also receive approval from the Singapore government in terms of implementation," Loke added.

He said that the Malaysian government, through MyHSR Corp, is currently issuing a request for information (RFI) from private sector consortia to submit concept proposals for developing and operating the HSR project. The RFI has received very promising responses, and the government is considering extending the submission period.

"Once the RFI process is completed, the ministry will submit it to the cabinet for approval, and then we will engage in discussions with the Singapore government," Loke said.

Malaysia and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement for the 350km rail project back in 2016. It was supposed to be completed in 2026 and would have significantly reduced travel time between Kuala Lumpur and the island republic to just 90 minutes.

However, the railway project was cancelled on Jan 1, 2021, by the Perikatan Nasional-led government, resulting in Malaysia having to pay RM320 million in compensation to Singapore as part of the bilateral agreement.

Earlier in March, Loke reportedly stated that the government was willing to revive the HSR project as long as Putrajaya would not bear the cost.

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Edited ByLam Jian Wyn
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