KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government intends to proceed with the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project as it is able to "generate a positive multiplier effect on the national economy", said finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz on Friday (Nov 6).
However, this is also dependent on continuing discussions with the Singapore government, he added.
His comments were made while tabling the 2021 national budget in parliament, which the government said is aimed at helping the country cope with the economic impact of COVID-19.
In his budget speech, Mr Tengku Zafrul outlined the government's commitment in implementing transport infrastructure projects that will benefit the people.
He said that in 2021, RM15 billion (US3.63 billion) will be used to fund projects like the Pan Borneo Highway, the Gemas-Johor Bahru Railway Electrified Double-Tracking project and phase 1 of the Klang Valley Double Tracking project.
Besides that, other projects that will be continued are the RTS Link project from Johor Bahru to Woodlands and the MRT Line in the Klang Valley area.
READ: Malaysia’s economy projected to grow up to 7.5% next year, says government as it tables expansionary 2021 budget
The minister said: "Basically the government intends to continue with the HSR project because this project is able to generate a positive multiplier effect on the national economy. However, this also depends on continuing discussions with Singapore."
In September 2018, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May this 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.
Both countries had also announced that the HSR service would be expected to start by Jan 1, 2031, instead of the original commencement date of Dec 31, 2026, as a result of that suspension.
The proposed HSR line aims to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes by train, from the current 11 hours on existing train services.
When operational, the line will offer an express service between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, a domestic service from Kuala Lumpur to Iskandar Puteri and a shuttle service from Iskandar Puteri to Jurong East.