Here’s a timeline for the project and its developments across three different Malaysian government administrations:
2013-2018: BREAKTHROUGH AGREEMENT SIGNED WITH NAJIB RAZAK’S ADMINISTRATION
The project was first made public in February 2013 at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
The two countries later signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in July 2016, witnessed by both premiers. This was followed by a legally binding bilateral agreement on the project in end-2016, paving the way for its implementation.
2018-2020: MAHATHIR’S PAKATAN HARAPAN GOVERNMENT REQUESTS TO DEFER HSR PROJECT
In May 2018, Malaysia’s historic 14th General Election saw a change in government. The Pakatan Harapan coalition, led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, clinched a dramatic victory over Mr Najib’s Barisan Nasional alliance.
Dr Mahathir, who was appointed prime minister, then told reporters that the HSR project was “not beneficial” to Malaysia, saying that the country would “make no money at all” from the arrangement.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he said the HSR project would cost Malaysia RM110 billion but would not earn the country “a single cent”.
In July, he then said his government would look to negotiate with Singapore the deferment of the project.
In September 2018, Singapore and Malaysia then signed a new agreement to formally agree to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May 2020.
Under the new agreement, the express service of the HSR was expected to start by Jan 1, 2031 instead of Dec 31, 2026.
Malaysia would also have to pay abortive costs amounting to about S$15 million before the end of January 2019 for suspending the project.
Additionally, if Malaysia did not proceed with the project by May 31, 2020, it would also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore in fulfilling the HSR Bilateral Agreement, according to a joint statement by both countries on the matter.
During the suspension period, both countries would “continue to discuss on the best way forward for the HSR Project with the aim of reducing costs”, the statement said.
2020: MUHYIDDIN’S GOVERNMENT GIVEN FINAL EXTENSION TO SUSPENSION PERIOD, AGREEMENT LAPSES ON DEC 31
In late-February 2020, the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s tenure in Malaysia’s government ended abruptly after a flurry of political activity.
Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister, and Mr Muhyiddin Yassin was appointed to helm a new government led by the Perikatan Nasional coalition.
In May 2020, both countries reached another agreement to defer the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project again until the end of the year.
It was made after Malaysia requested to extend the suspension period for the project, to allow both sides to discuss and assess Malaysia’s proposed changes to the project.
On Dec 2, 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin spoke on the project via video conference.
Following that, Malaysian media reported that Putrajaya might continue the project without Singapore’s involvement. Hence, the line – which starts in Kuala Lumpur – could end in Johor in Malaysia instead of Jurong East in Singapore.
On Jan 1, 2021, Mr Lee and Mr Muhyiddin announced that the project would be discontinued after the HSR agreement lapsed on Dec 31, 2020. Source: CNA/am(rw)
Tham Yuen-CSenior Political Correspondent
SINGAPORE – The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project has been terminated, after both countries failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia by the deadline of Dec 31.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin announced this in a joint statement on Friday (Jan 1) morning.
The statement said the Malaysian Government had proposed several changes to the HSR project in the light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Malaysian economy.
“Both Governments had conducted several discussions with regard to these changes and had not been able to reach an agreement. Therefore, the HSR Agreement had lapsed on 31 December 2020.”
The statement said both countries will abide by their respective obligations, and will now proceed with the necessary actions, resulting from the termination of the HSR Agreement.
Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, in a separate statement, said Malaysia had allowed the HSR bilateral agreement to be terminated, and has to compensate Singapore for costs already incurred, in accordance with the agreement.
The joint statement added: “Both countries remain committed to maintain good bilateral relations, and cooperate closely in various fields, including strengthening the connectivity between the two countries.”
PETALING JAYA: Singapore’s transport ministry has confirmed that the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project has been cancelled.
In a statement today, the ministry said Malaysia has to compensate Singapore for costs it has incurred as part of its obligations under the bilateral agreement.
Previously, a well-placed source in Putrajaya told FMT the compensation Malaysia would have to pay Singapore is around RM320 million.