Malaysia PM Mahathir Mohamad to drop high-speed rail project with Singapore

Lucy Bush
May 30, 2018

If Mahathir was quoted correctly by the Financial Times regarding his view on Singapore, he would be well advised not to rile up the Singapore government with such unfriendly talks without any apparent provocation.

"We're not only looking at HSR, but also other big projects that cost us a lot of money". "If we break the agreement, we have to pay a very large sum of money".

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a bold statement during a recent interview with The Financial Times, seemingly taking a jibe at the ruling party here.

Instances such as the sudden and instant zero rating of GST, the sudden scraping of HSR project when it was announced only days ago that the government had to first review it.

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The Land Transport Authority 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.

Dr Mahathir said action will be taken against the EC and its chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah if there is evidence of wrongdoings.

Najib said at the time: "One can have breakfast in Kuala Lumpur, lunch in Singapore, and be back in time for dinner in Kuala Lumpur".

Implying that the stunning election upset he led across the causeway may have a ripple effect in Singapore, Dr Mahathir said: "I think the people of Singapore, like the people in Malaysia, must be exhausted of having the same government, the same party since independence". A year on, the project has failed to attract any buyers.

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"There are 700 to 800 spoilt votes don't tell me we Malaysians are that stupid?" he told a news conference.

Mahathir has also said his government was haggling with Chinese partners over the terms of a US$14 billion rail deal aimed at connecting the South China Sea at the Thai border in the east with the strategic shipping routes of the Strait of Malacca in the west.

He estimates that Malaysia could cut nearly a fifth of its $250 billion national debt and liabilities by scrapping such big projects.

He questioned the need for the project in the first place, saying "it is not going to serve any goal, it is not going to give us any returns".

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