SINGAPORE: The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project will be discontinued after the HSR agreement lapsed on Dec 31, 2020, the Prime Ministers of both countries said in a joint statement on Friday morning (Jan 1).
Both Singapore and Malaysia will now proceed with the "necessary actions".
In the statement, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said: "The Government of Malaysia and the Government of Singapore wish to provide an update on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR Project in view of the expiry of the suspension period of the HSR Project on Dec 31, 2020.
"In light of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Malaysian economy, the Government of Malaysia had proposed several changes to the HSR Project. 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 Dec 31, 2020," the leaders said.
"Both countries will abide by their respective obligations, and will now proceed with the necessary actions, resulting from this termination of the HSR Agreement.
"Both countries remain committed to maintain good bilateral relations, and cooperate closely in various fields, including strengthening the connectivity between the two countries."
MALAYSIA HAS TO COMPENSATE SINGAPORE FOR COSTS ALREADY INCURRED BY SINGAPORE: TRANSPORT MINISTRY
In a statement released on Friday morning, Singapore's Ministry of Transport said both Prime Ministers had met on video conference on Dec 2 to review the status of the project, including changes proposed by the Malaysia government.
"Malaysia has since allowed the HSR Bilateral Agreement to be terminated, and has to compensate Singapore for costs already incurred by Singapore in fulfilling its obligations under the HSR BA in accordance with the Parties’ agreement," MOT said.
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Prior to the announcement, there have been Malaysian media reports 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.
In September 2018, both sides agreed to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May last year. Malaysia had to pay Singapore S$15 million for costs incurred in suspending the project.
Malaysia later requested a further seven-month extension to allow both sides to discuss and assess Malaysia’s proposed changes to the project.
Mr Khaw Boon Wan, who was then Singapore’s Transport Minister, agreed to the "final extension of the suspension period" until Dec 31.
The proposed HSR line had aimed to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes by train, from the current 11 hours on existing train services.