December 14, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – It’s time for Malaysia to revisit the High Speed Railway (HSR) project with Singapore, says Johor investment, trade and consumer affairs committee chairman Lee Ting Han.
“There is no time to lose. With the pandemic derailing our economic growth trajectory, the HSR may help to not just get us back on track, but also speed up our journey towards embracing the global economy,” he said.
Neighbouring countries are moving forward and growing stronger while Malaysia is “struggling” to find a way to recover from the tough economy, he added.
“Therefore, I take the view that it is the right time for us to see whether there is a need to revive the HSR project under the new administration,” he said in his speech at the closing ceremony of the Belt and Road initiative symposium held at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Skudai campus here yesterday.
At a press conference later, Lee voiced the readiness of the state to cooperate with Putrajaya on the possible revival of the HSR project.
He said the state government would decide on the kind of collaboration after the Transport Ministry starts to work on the feasibility of the project.
“We need to see the ministry’s proposal first. Then the state government will comment on how we can work together, especially over land issues, planning permission and so on.
“We hope that the Federal Government will be able to reconsider the feasibility of the project so that there is an economic spillover for Johor in particular,” he said.
Asked whether the revival of the HSR project would address the issue of unsold properties in Johor, Lee said it could play a factor in addressing it.
“It may help partially. We believe the HSR project may create economic spillover as it can attract more talent,” he said.
For example, Lee said multinational companies based in Singapore might move some of their operations to Johor.
On Nov 29, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the republic was open to any new proposal from Malaysia on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR, although both countries had earlier agreed to terminate the project.
Malaysia and Singapore inked bilateral agreements for the HSR project on Dec 13, 2016. The 350km railway line, which was to have been completed in 2026, would reduce the travel time between both destinations to 90 minutes.
However, the project was put on the backburner in September 2018 with both sides agreeing to shelf the bilateral project worth RM110bil until Dec 31, 2020.
Eventually on Jan 1, 2021, Malaysia and Singapore jointly announced the termination of the HSR project as no agreement was reached on the changes proposed by Malaysia and the fact that the agreement had expired on Dec 31, 2020.
In March 2021, Malaysia announced that it had paid S$102.8mil (RM330.3mil) to Singapore for the cost incurred by the republic for the development of HSR and the delays involved.