PUTRAJAYA (Dec 17): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government will go ahead with the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) after making "some adjustments" to reduce the project's costs.
"Yes, we will go ahead [with the HSR]. But we want to find out what is the most suitable speed that we should have, it is not necessarily 400km/hour, because if we travel at that speed, we might reach Alor Setar (from Singapore)," he said jokingly to reporters after witnessing the signing of the share sale agreement and shareholders agreement between TRX City Sdn Bhd and IWC-CREC Sdn Bhd that will kick off the Bandar Malaysia project.
"So, we will look into what is most suitable for this project. We would like to spend less money. It is very expensive this HSR, but maybe we can scale down or do some adjustments in order to reduce the cost," he added.
Mahathir also confirmed that the Bandar Malaysia project, which has been officially revived today, will house a HSR station.
"Yes it will have the HSR station, although we have not decided on the actual HSR project itself, but it (Bandar Malaysia) will have the HSR station.
"We hope that this place will become a hub of all kinds of activities, including finance. Finance is of course meant for TRX (Tun Razak Exchange), but it (Bandar Malaysia) will be a centre for mainly international companies who will have their facilities here, so that they can serve the whole of Southeast Asia," he said.
In September 2018, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to suspend the HSR project until end-May 2020, with Malaysia having to pay Singapore S$15 million for costs incurred for the suspension. At the time, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said Malaysia was committed to continue with the project after May 2020.
Asked about Bumiputera participation in the Bandar Malaysia project, Mahathir said the government has not conducted any estimates on the possible participation rate.
"We haven't determined the percentage [of Bumiputera participation]. We hope they will participate with more than 30%," he said.
Earlier today, TRX City signed the share sale agreement and shareholders agreement to divest 60% stake of Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd to IWH-CREC Sdn Bhd for RM6.45 billion. Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd is the 486-acre Bandar Malaysia project's master developer, and a unit of TRX City.
TRX City, in turn, is wholly owned by the Minister of Finance (Inc), while IWH-CREC is a 60:40 joint venture between Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn BHd (IWH) and China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd (CREC).
Businessman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo controls a 63% stake in IWH while Johor government's Kumpulan Prasaran Rakyat Johor Sdn Bhd has the remaining 37%.