4 October 2021
Former prime minister Najib Razak has challenged the government to release a 2020 Cabinet paper which proposed replacing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project with a new service from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Johor Bahru.
Najib accused the previous Perikatan Nasional government of having approved the switch and the appointment of the KLIA Express railway company and use of its technology.
“That is why they were willing to pay compensation of RM320 million to Singapore to cancel the original project so that the contractor can be appointed directly by the government without an open international tender with Singapore,” he added.
“You can give the project directly to the KLIA Ekspress company owned by a certain company because some people love them very much,” he said, in an apparent indirect reference to YTL Corporation, which heads a consortium that owns the rail operator, Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd.
Najib also made reference to an accusation by former education minister Maszlee Malik that he had been dismissed because of his objection to a contract involving YTL Communications, which had angered his party president, Muhyiddin Yassin.
The cancellation of the HSR project was announced by the government on Jan 1 after Singapore did not agree to changes proposed by Malaysia.
Najib called for the project to be revived in accordance with the original concept and planning.
“Not resuming the project from Bandar Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur to Singapore will cost the country RM500 billion in losses in the long run if the KLIA-Johor Bahru project is continued,” he said.
Singapore’s exclusion from a high-speed rail line would make the project unsustainable, he said.
A final proposal paper by the previous government had shown that the number of passengers using the line would drop by half to just 4.2 million a year by 2031 if Singapore was not included.
“The cost of the new line is also reported to be between RM63 billion and RM65 billion, which is not that much different from the original RM60 billion to RM68 billion for the original KL-Singapore HSR,” he said.
He also said that if the new line does not stop at the Bandar Malaysia project, as originally planned, it could affect the project’s development potential estimated at RM140 billion.