JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia should not withdraw from the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim told Channel NewsAsia in an exclusive interview on Thursday (Jul 19).
“I think it’s a very, very positive project that we should continue because it will not only help Johor but also Singapore,” he said.
“It will boost the economy in Johor, maybe to have more foreign investment coming in. The HSR is a very positive project that we should proceed and continue (with), that’s my personal opinion.”
However, he said whether to proceed with the project was “up to the government” of Malaysia.
“There’s nothing I can do because at the end of the day it’s between the governments,” he said.
READ: What you need to know about the KL-Singapore HSR
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad first said in media reports in May that Malaysia intends to scrap the project which was agreed upon with Singapore by the former federal government.
However, Singapore has said that it has not received any formal notice of this from its neighbour. On Wednesday, Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said he will be discussing the issue with Singapore’s Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to find the best solution in the best interest of both countries.
Dr Mahathir on Thursday took a different stance, telling reporters the country may defer the project instead of scrapping it after studying the costs and implications of cancelling the project.
Malaysia had accrued debts and liabilities of more than RM1 trillion under the previous administration, Malaysia’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had said.
The new Pakatan Harapan government has made reducing that debt a priority and has been reviewing several mega projects in a bid to trim down debts and liabilities.
When asked about how the project may affect Malaysia’s national debt, Tunku Ismail said: “At the end of the day, they are the government. They should judge what is necessary and what’s not necessary. It’s not my place and not my position to know what’s the financial status of the country.”
Singapore and Malaysia signed a bilateral agreement for the HSR project in December 2016, and it was due to start operations in 2026.
Tunku Ismail made his comments during a wide-ranging interview, as he also addressed Johor Darul Ta’zim winning its fifth consecutive Malaysia Super League title on July 10, and prepares for celebrations tomorrow.