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Malaysia scrapes multi-billion dollar high-speed rail project to Singapore



Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he would cancel a planned billion-dollar high-speed rail link to Singapore as the new leader, who had returned to power in a surprise election defeat this month, withdrew spending

Scrapping the plan will take time as negotiations with Singapore are needed, Mahathir said Monday in Kuala Lumpur. The PM's office in Singapore and the City Department of Transportation did not respond immediately to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

Mahathir Mohamad, Center, May 28th.

Photographer: Joshua Paul / Bloomberg [19659005] The decision would set a backlash for Asian construction and railway companies, including those from China and Japan, who want to secure a number of contracts. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed with his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, to build the rail link to limit land travel between the two Southeast Asian cities to 90 minutes, from now about five hours. The 350-kilometer track with trains running at a top speed of more than 300 kilometers per hour should be operational in 2026.

"This will cost us a huge sum of money, we will not make any money at all from this operation," Mahathir told reporters. "It's only a short distance, it will only save you an hour if you take the HSR."

The leader who sought a "crooked bridge" with Singapore is back

In a previously published interview The Financial Times said Mahathir's decision "To avoid bankruptcy," Malaysia added, "you do not have to take unnecessary projects like the high-speed line connecting Kuala Lumpur with the city-state because it will not bring us a penny. "

Construction of rail link would have cost Malaysia 110 billion ringgit ($ 28 billion), Mahathir told FT.

The Prime Minister also said that Malaysia would talk with the Chinese government about the renegotiation of so-called "unequal contracts", including a Chinese company $ 14 billion East Coast Rail project along the east coast of the peninsula Malaysia, according to the report ,

Mahathir's government faces liabilities that exceed 1 trillion ringgit due to government guarantees for borrowing b y an investment company at the center of a billion dollar corruption scandal. This is almost twice the debt burden of 687 billion ringgit disclosed by the previous government.

Malaysia has also decided to halt the search for the missing MH370 jet by US explorer Ocean Infinity. The company had gained many expansions after the original three-month contract in January. No further time will be allowed after May 29, Transport Secretary Anthony Loke told Siew Fook on Monday to reporters.

– With the support of Jason Koutsoukis and Yudith Ho


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