Photo of Mahathir with Lee Hsien Loong from AFP

After hearing that Malaysia suggested a cheaper High Speed Rail option by upgrading the existing KTM railway infrastructure, the Singapore government said no and even called it “foolish”. The new proposal suggested by Malaysia Prime Minister’s advisory council, Malaysia’s Council of Eminent Persons, said that an additional single rail line can be added to the KTM’s existing double track. This alternative would save up land acquisition costs and reduce the High Speed Rail costs by S$13.58 billion (RM40 billion).

The only drawback is that the trains would be travelling at 200km/hr, as compared to the original 320km/hr. A direct travel from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur would increase by around 30 minutes to 2 hours.

To this suggestion, Singapore’s state media TodayOnline said no and called the idea stupid. TodayOnline sought out negative views from local engineers and criticised the idea as “penny wise and pound foolish”. The propaganda state media also quoted a local “transport economist” who slammed the idea as “not so simple”:

“Even if the authorities upgrade Malaysia’s Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway infrastructure as a cheaper alternative to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project, it may still take time and need substantial work. And the move may turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish further down the road, with Singapore and Malaysia left behind while other countries pursue a regional high-speed rail network.”

The Singapore government has been uncooperative to the Malaysia’s new government as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is a personal friend of former Malaysia PM Najib Razak. Najib Razak currently faces corruption charges and investigations have revealed that the Singapore government was a partner-in-crime assisting Najib Razak to money launder his ill-gotten billions from Malaysia state fund 1MDB.

Singapore state media have been largely supportive of Najib Razak, and in recent weeks been spreading rumours and fake news to destabilise the new Malaysia government.

The Singapore government is currently in trouble over infrastructural planning after Malaysia announced that the High Speed Rail (HSR) project would be scrapped. The town where the HSR terminal would be at, Jurong, is now left with a “big hole” after the government acquired 12 hectare of land. Originally planned to be the “second Central Business District”, the Jurong Lake District now is in a limbo stage as the Singapore government tries to dissuade Malaysia from shelving the plan. Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan insisted that he did not receive any “formal” notification from Malaysia and threatened to charge Malaysia more than the contractual RM500 million in compensation.