KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 28): Calling for the revival of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak suggested that the Employees Provident Fund and Permodalan Nasional Bhd be given the task of undertaking the project.
He said the two institutional funds had proven to be able to work together well, as seen in the successful development of the Battersea project in London.
He added that since the HSR project would connect with Singapore, the Bandar Malaysia project can also be successful through a joint venture with Singaporean investors.
Najib (BN-Pekan) said this in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, when debating on the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).
Putrajaya had announced the cancellation of the HSR project on Jan 1, after Singapore could not agree on changes proposed by Malaysia.
The project’s estimated construction cost was last quoted at around RM60 billion, down from its original price tag of RM110 billion.
Najib also said that besides the efforts to rebuild international relationships with major economies following the 14th General Election, Malaysia also needs to recapture the attention and interest of the world.
“The vision, mission and projects such as the HSR which will connect two of ASEAN’s largest economies, need to resume according to the original concept and planning. (This is) in addition to giving a new life to the southern corridor of the peninsula such as Iskandar Malaysia, Batu Pahat, Muar, Melaka and Seremban.
“During the construction, the HSR project is expected to create 70,000 direct and indirect work opportunities. And after the HSR project is ready to operate, it would be able to provide economic benefits of around US$1.6 billion a year, according to a study by the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan — on condition that the track is connected with Singapore,” he said.
Najib added that bringing back the HSR project as originally planned would also be able to revive the RM140 billion gross development valued Bandar Malaysia project.
“If this happens, I (would also like to) suggest that it be rebranded as ASEAN City, so that it will position Malaysia as the centre for ASEAN in the efforts of attracting the attention of the international community,” he said.
Najib however said that any plan to replace the HSR project’s Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route with a new alignment stretching from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Johor Bahru, will not be viable.
The HSR was first announced in September 2010 by Najib himself, with the infrastructure project slated for completion in 2026.