Malaysia-Singapore high-speed rail project terminated

The Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project has been terminated due to both parties being unable to reach an agreement, a joint statement said on Friday.

According to a joint press statement from the Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia and the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore, the HSR agreement had lapsed on Dec. 31, 2020.

According to the statement, the Malaysian government had proposed several changes to the HSR project in light of the impact of COVID-19 on its economy. The governments of both sides had conducted several discussions with regard to these changes and had not been able to reach an agreement, it said.

The bilateral agreement on the project, signed in 2016, had been suspended at Malaysia’s request since September 2018, with the deadline for the extension of the suspension expiring on Dec. 31, 2020.

“Both countries will abide by their respective obligations, and will now proceed with the necessary actions, resulting from this termination of the HSR agreement,” the statement said.

Both countries remain committed to maintaining good bilateral relations and cooperating closely in various fields, including strengthening the connectivity between the two countries, it added.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin met via videoconference on Dec. 2, 2020 to review the status of the HSR project, including changes proposed by Malaysia.

According to a statement of Singapore’s Ministry of Transport on Friday, Malaysia had since allowed the HSR agreement to be terminated, and had to compensate Singapore for costs already incurred in fulfilling its obligations under the agreement.

The HSR would have been 350 km long, including 335 km within Malaysia and 15 km in Singapore. It had been scheduled to be completed by 2026, cutting travel time between Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to just 90 minutes.

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