With the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project now officially shelved, the question of how much Malaysia will have to cough out in terms of compensation is being widely discussed. Since we were the party to moot the idea and proposed the project, and now deciding to cancel the joint venture, Singapore will be seeking due payment for the trouble and all the work its people had put in.
No specific amount has been released so far, but there is no reason for anyone to hold their breath as the confidentially clause in the bilateral agreement stipulates that any compensation figure paid will be kept between the two nations. This was reiterated by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed who was involved in the discussion till the cancellation.
He added that the government is waiting for the cost details from Singapore and once received it will be scrutinised before being confirmed, as the types of claims allowed have already been agreed upon. Clarifying that the compensation has to be seen as more of a reimbursement for specific cost and work commissioned by the Singapore government instead of punitively. As such any figures being published are mere speculative in nature.
According to Mustapa, the main reason behind the cancellation of the much anticipated HSR project was due to the emergence of COVID-19 which had forced the government to find ways to reduce the cost of several mega projects as well as identify strategies to revive the country’s economy after the pandemic.
There were attempts to find alternative solutions to make the project viable, including proposing a new structure that is not only neater but the new proposed HSR model is widely used worldwide. Its was purported to save the government from providing guarantees amounting to RM60 billion for 30 years. Apart from that, Malaysia also suggested some other changes including station alignment and design, which will all reduce spending by about 30 per cent.