Photo of Jurong Lakeside District impression from Facebook

The Johor state government today (June 3) told local media that they support the abolition of the High Speed Rail (HSR) construction. Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian reasoned that the project is too costly and would land Malaysia into debt for more than a decade:

“The federal government’s decision to cancel this project is … in line with the Pakatan Harapan-led government’s approach not to burden the nation with mega projects that could lead to an increase in debt, at the same time, reducing national debts. This project, if implemented, will only be completed and start operation by Dec 31, 2026, which is about nine years from now. It will definitely take a long time before we could get a return on the cost, let alone profit, and this does not take into account any other costs, including maintenance costs. Investment in the project which reaches RM110 billion is very high, while the returns are low. What is most important is that the services offered can be enjoyed… by the people from all walks of life and those projects implemented do not burden the country’s finances whereby it is forced to incur massive debts for a very long period of time.”

The newly-elected Johor government added that the RM500 million compensation costs for breaching the contract is a small price to pay when compared to a RM100 billion debt:

“Serious and critical tasks that the PH government now has to undertake is to strengthen and restore the country’s financial condition that has been destroyed by the previous administration and leadership as well as to ensure that the people are always protected from the burden of a high cost of living.”

This confirmation cemented the death of the HSR, but the Singapore government remain in denial mode. Last week, Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that he did not receive any official notice from Malaysia. The PAP Minister threatened to charge Malaysia more for compensation, and did not respond to Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s earlier statement calling for a payment negotiation.

The Singapore government is expected to incur billions of losses in undergoing development projects, from acquiring 62 hectares of land in Jurong to relocating the Tanjong Pagar Terminal port to Tuas. The earlier plan for a second Central Business District, called the “Jurong Lake District”, is now in limbo with the Singapore government not knowing what to do at the moment. For over 3 weeks since Mahathir’s announcement, there has been no announcement from the Singapore government on the fate of Jurong Lake District, Tuas Mega Port and the 62ha “hole” sitting in Jurong.

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