Singapore agrees to suspend RTS again — until April 30 next year

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 5): Singapore has agreed to a request by Malaysia to suspend the cross-border Rapid Transit System (RTS) link by a further six months until April 30, 2020.

In a report by the Straits Times, Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wah said the city state's agreement for this third suspension of the project was in the spirit of bilateral cooperation.

Both countries will discuss Malaysia's proposed changes to the project, said Khaw — who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure — in a written reply on Monday (Nov 4).

However, Malaysia has not shared its proposed alterations to the plans yet, he said.

"Without the details, Malaysia's proposal is incomplete and Singapore is unable to make a thorough assessment of the technical and commercial feasibility of the proposal.

"While we are not obliged to accept Malaysia's proposed changes, we will continue to keep an open mind and assess them carefully and objectively," he added.

These changes would require the restatement of the RTS Link Bilateral Agreement, which needs to be signed at the end of the suspension period.

In addition, two other agreements will need to be signed at the same time — an agreement between Prasarana Malaysia Bhd and Singapore's SMRT Corp Ltd to form a joint venture operating company, and a concession agreement between the governments of both countries to appoint the operating company as the RTS Link operator.

This announcement follows Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announcing on Oct 31 that the project will continue, albeit at a 36% lower cost of RM3.16 billion from RM4.93 billion initially.

While he did not share all the details of the amended plans, he did say an important feature of its revised cost structure was the involvement of Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, the owner of the Bukit Chagar land, to waive the land cost.

Malaysia and Singapore had on May 21 signed a supplemental agreement to postpone the project until Sept 30 this year, with Malaysia agreeing to compensate Singapore over S$600,000 as termination costs.

Khaw's reply comes after Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke slammed The Star's frontpage report on Nov 1 saying the project will be postponed by another six months as fake news.

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