KUALA LUMPUR – Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to put the high-speed rail line (HSR) in the refrigerator after the responsible ministers met on Thursday (23 August), with senior officials now in charge of negotiating the suspension conditions.
The Straits Times understands that the Minister of Transport, Khaw Boon Wan, has communicated the Singapore agreement to the request for postponement at the meeting in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian Minister of Economic Affairs, Azmin Ali.
Both parties will now study how long the project must be stored before they return to the discussion table.
The 350 km long railway between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur was agreed in 2016 and was originally planned for completion in 2026.
The timetable is important because there are cost implications and negotiation has to be negotiated.
"Everyone is on their own side and senior officials will meet each other soon, within the next week," said a source familiar with negotiating the link that would shorten the travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes.
It is understood that a postponement of one or two years has been suggested.
The discussion on Thursday was the second official meeting between the ministers in charge, and the first was held on 11 August.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad initially announced in May that his weeks-old government wanted to delete the link. Malaysia later softened its position, saying that it would negotiate with Singapore and seek a postponement.
Datuk Seri Azmin said that the second meeting "saw a thorough and detailed discussion, we are quickly optimistic about a win-win resolution".
The Malaysian government has said that it can pay poorly the estimated HSR costs of RM110 billion ($ 36.8 billion) because it is saddled with RM1 trillion in government debt.
Mr. Khaw said in July that Singapore spent more than S $ 250 million on the project and is likely to deposit S $ 40 million by the end of the year.