KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his government will look to negotiate with Singapore the deferment of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.
"When we looked at the financial situation of the country we thought that we couldn't go ahead (with the HSR),” he told reporters in parliament.
“But having studied it and the implication of unilaterally discarding the contract, we decided we may have to do it at a later date, we may have to reduce the price. But reduction of the price is very difficult as far as we can make out. So it has to be deferred."
Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali on Wednesday said he planned to visit Singapore by the end of July to discuss the status of the agreement entered into by the previous Najib Razak-led government.
Singapore on Jun 1 sent Malaysia a diplomatic note to seek clarification on the HSR project. There has been no reply to the note, although the Malaysian government has informed Singapore that it will propose dates for a meeting by Jul 31.
Pakatan Harapan took over after the Mahathir-led coalition won the general elections on May 9. It has been reviewing several mega projects as part of their election pledges and to trim down on debts and liabilities.
"Singapore wants to know what's our stand, but officially now we are sending the minister," said Dr Mahathir.
"The problem is if we unilaterally discarded the agreement, we have to pay a very high compensation. Of course we can't say that we will never build this High-Speed Rail. But at the moment we don't have the funds. So we have to delay."