Friday, 22 June, 2018

Malaysia Taps Public Euphoria to Reduce Nation's Debt Burden

Mahathir Bin Mohamad Mahathir Bin Mohamad
Gerardo Duncan | 30 May, 2018, 19:30

The Singapore government has also invested a fair bit in planning and early projections for the project such as engaging planners and civil engineers, said Azman Jaafar, deputy managing partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and chairman of Asean Plus Group.

"The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR is not inspired by the decision made by one country only", he said.

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) deputy chairman, Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, said both projects should continue to ensure that Malaysia's public transportation system remains on the best platform.

He added: "When Malaysia requested to discontinue the cases, without them being argued, we were happy to agree".

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 92-year-old who triumphed over scandal-plagued Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a general election this month, has made it a priority to cut the national debt and pledged to review major projects agreed by the previous government.

He said the decision to cancel the project was taken "to reduce the amount of borrowings" by Najib.

"It's not beneficial, it's going to cost us a huge sum of money".

Mahathir has reopened an investigation into 1MDB following his election victory. "We will make no money at all from this operation".

Jurong Lake District is where the terminus for the high speed rail was to have been sited - into Singapore's second central business district.

Mahathir on Monday said he believed Malaysia would incur a 500 million ringgit (US$125 million) penalty payable to Singapore for its unilateral decision to cancel the project - part of a binding bilateral agreement signed by Najib's administration and Singapore in 2016.

He said the fund was necessary to ensure that the donations from patriotic Malaysians would reach the Ministry of Finance.

In a separate press conference on Wednesday, transport minister Anthony Loke said the planned cancellation would be subject to negotiations with Singapore.

Ever since Our Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng announced that we have over RM1 trillion national debt, Malaysians had been heartwarmingly offering ways to help pay off the debt in their own way.

"In reality, an infrastructure project such as the HSR brings about plenty of returns in the form of property value, economic growth, technology transfer, the import of expertise from Singapore, as well as tourism", said Najib.

An express service on the line was estimated to be launched by the end of 2026.

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