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(Press Statement) Anwar Ibrahim: Come Clean On Reason For Cancelling HSR

PRESS STATEMENT 6 January 2021

LIKE many Malaysians I am troubled by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s decision to terminate the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

It shows either a fundamental lack of understanding of what this project represents or economic incompetence on behalf of those entrusted with the nation’s development.

Hundreds of millions of ringgit in public funds have been spent on the HSR already, and now according to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, we will have to pay compensation of around RM821 million to Singapore.

We seem to be making a habit of paying compensation to Singapore. In 2006, we paid RM270 million to our southern neighbour over the cancellation of the “crooked bridge” at the causeway – again a project that was terminated by Malaysia.

Forget the years, effort and expenses spent in negotiating these cross-border agreements, these acts of terminating agreements show a cavalier attitude in the management of our nation’s funds by the leadership of our governments during these periods.

For the PN government, the cancellation of the HSR to Singapore clearly shows that PN is more concerned with clinging to power and taking care of vested financial interests – rather than behaving like a government in the middle of a major pandemic and critical economic challenges.
The measured report delivered by Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung that Malaysia wanted to remove Assets Company (AssetsCo) – a fundamental part of the agreement – has raised concerns and questions here in Malaysia.

Questions that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must address.

This goes to the core of our integrity as a trading and bilateral partner not just with Singapore but with other countries as well.

There can be no deflection, nor smoke and mirror statements and certainly, no throw away answers given by certain ministers.

Why is the PN government against having a joint asset company that has the skill set both countries lack? Especially if we could have negotiated to ensure it included increasing the capacity and technical ability of our own local companies, providing growth for them, and long-term employment for Malaysians?

Doing it jointly with Singapore would have ensured neither side could abuse the process and created transparency for the rakyat.

Perhaps this is the reason.

There is no question that the cancellation is a mistake both from a current economic standpoint and in terms of future benefits.

The cost of cancellation as opposed to the cost of funds to continue with the project also makes no sense.

The HSR to Singapore would have significantly opened up economic opportunities for Johor, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

My constituency of Port Dickson for instance sees a high number of Singapore tourists during the holidays. Businesses would have been far more willing to set up high-value manufacturing operations here and all along the