Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

HSR cancellation: Don't make emotional decisions, says Najib

Mahathir confirms high-speed rail project with Singapore to be scrapped - The Jakarta Post Malaysia PM Mahathir Mohamad to drop high-speed rail project with Singapore
| 30 May, 2018, 19:31

The finance ministry set up Tabung Harapan, or the Hope Fund, for citizens who were eager to contribute after the government said Malaysia's debt was higher than previously disclosed by the previous administration.

Mohamad said that the process to cancel the project will take some time because of Malaysia's agreement with Singapore.

Mahathir, in a separate interview prior to the general election, denied he was hostile to Singapore but said that he and the late former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew were similar in that both of them were firm in defending the interests of their respective countries.

When questioned about the compensation that needed to be paid, he said he "supposed" it would be RM500mil. But of course, why we cancelled the project is because of affordability.

"As far as the leaders from China and the Chinese are concerned, we have made it clear that we are going to look at all these contracts again because they are very costly for the government and will incur huge debts, which we can not pay", he was reported as saying.

But then again, if the HSR project was to be dropped, it would incur significant costs - and Tun Dr. Mahathir has stated that his government is looking into ways to reduce the amount of money it has to pay Singapore. Why make enemies with such cavalier talks when we need all the friends in the world to help us rebuild a broken country?


The new government has said Najib - now being investigated over his role in the 1MDB financial scandal - had over leveraged the country by committing to too many infrastructure projects at the same time. "We do not want to add on to debts and the pressure on the government", he added.

Both developments are likely to alarm the Singapore government, already wary of Mahathir's return as ties between the neighbours were famously stormy during his first stint as premier from 1981-2003.

United States investigators said Mr Najib's associates stole and laundered at least $US4.5 billion ($AU5.97 billion) from the fund.

There is no official cost estimate for the project, but Malaysian officials say it would have cost up to 60 billion ringgit. Minister of Finance, Lim Guan Eng ends the statement by expressing their honest appreciation and gratitude to all Malaysians for all their support and concern.

Loke said a separate metro link connecting Singapore's northern township of Woodlands and Malaysia's southern city of Johor Bahru will go ahead as planned.

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