COMMENT | As someone who was part of the Malaysian team of officials that worked on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project for two years way back in 2015 – 2016, I felt a tinge of sadness when the two prime ministers announced the termination of the HSR Bilateral Agreement on Jan 1, 2021.
However, after listening to the Astro Awani interview with Minister in Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamad and also the podcast of the statement by Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, I realised that while the 2016 HSR Bilateral Agreement is definitely dead and buried, the same is not necessarily true of the project itself.
In an act of statesmanship, both ministers very explicitly left open the possibility of a direct HSR connection between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in the future.
When Mustapa said that the southern terminus of our domestic HSR project would remain at Iskandar Puteri, it shows that the Malaysian government recognises that Singapore is land-challenged and since they have identified Jurong East at the available site for HSR, we are willing to accommodate their choice in the future should they decide to connect with us.
When Singapore's transport minister announced in their Parliament that Singapore is willing to consider any new proposal from Malaysia in good faith starting from a clean slate, he is also leaving the door open for a future connection.
Both these statements are equally significant and show a recognition that both countries will gain from having a direct HSR service between the two countries...