Written by Lim Jin Jie

Yes, but at least a decade from now…

After Malaysian PM Mahathir said in May that Malaysia would be scrapping the project, and then in July that it would instead be deferred, Singapore and Malaysia have come to a formal agreement to postpone the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project for nearly two years. Malaysia will have to pay abortive costs of $15 million to Singapore by January 2019, and will have until 31 May 2020 to proceed with construction works, failing which Malaysia would have to bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore.


Considering this, the timeline has been adjusted to accommodate the postponement. Rail services are expected to start by January 2031, four years later than the originally scheduled date of 31 December 2026. This is explained by the Ministry of Transport to be due to the additional time required to “implement the project after it resumes”.


What’s important?

This provides a conclusion to the uncertainties surrounding the project since May this year, when after winning the May 9 elections, Dr Mahathir said that he wanted to scrap the project to cut the country’s RM1 trillion debt, claiming that the project was “not beneficial” to Malaysia at all. Dr Mahathir then made a U-turn in July, when he mentioned that the government would look to negotiate with Singapore the deferment of the project. The project not only slashes travelling time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur; it is also expected to contribute S$6.7 billion in gross domestic product to Malaysia and Singapore.


Even though we might have to wait until we are in the workforce before we can enjoy the HSR, at least there is some clarity now over the situation, and we should look forward to using the services, albeit in 13 years’ time!

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