You know how we’ve all been waiting with bated breath for this moment? Yes! Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan finally said his piece in Parliament today about the High Speed Rail (HSR). Before we going into the recaps of how Malaysia has been talking about cancelling the HSR project, which they say will benefit Singapore and they got no money to pay for this project liao, let’s take a look at what Minister Khaw said today:
- It was Malaysia that had suggested building the HSR and Singapore agreed to the joint project.
- The bilateral agreement with Malaysia provides for how compensation is to be dealt with. Should Malaysia decide to terminate the project, both nations will have to address the issue of compensation from Malaysia for costs incurred by Singapore in accordance with the HSR bilateral agreement and international law.
- Singapore has already spent more than S$250 million on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, and is likely to expend another S$40 million or so by end 2018. This includes costs for consultancies to design the civil infrastructure, costs for dedicating manpower to oversee and deliver the project and costs for land acquisition. This is Singapore taxpayers’ money.
- Singapore sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia on 1 June “to seek immediate clarification on Malaysia’s position”. To date, there has been no reply.
- Public statements made through press interviews by the Malaysian Ministers, and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the termination of the project have not been followed through with any official communication to the Singapore government.
- Singapore is therefore left with no choice but to continue performing in accordance with the bilateral agreement, and thus continue to incur more costs. It will be wasted expenditure if the project does not proceed.
Ok, so we read it from a layman’s perspective – our Abangs up North have been saying so many things to the media – wanna cancel HSR project, wanna maybe delay the project, want Singapore to be kind and don’t make them compensate ‘cos they got no money left liao – but until now, haven’t gotten their act together to have an official meeting or even a note to reply Singapore’s request for clarification?
And while we wait, we are incurring more costs for this project because we are keeping to our end of the bilateral agreement. What the potato?!!
And if there is a line that sums it up nicely for the Malaysians to note, it would be this:
“It would not be fair for the taxpayers of one country to bear the cost of another country’s actions.”
Yes indeed! Even if we are a country that is not in deficit, our people too would like our government to help us using the money we have. Already our people are asking for more to be done to help the poor, close up the inequality gap, pump more into healthcare. If we keep making allowances to Malaysia while they take their own sweet time to make up their mind about whether they want the HSR or not, then who suffers? And who’s next after Malaysia?
We give in once, other countries will come asking for concessions too, then what’s the point of having international laws and treaties? For fun meh?
Malaysia’s new leaders seem to think they can just use their mouth and just suka suka talk to the media, and do that in place of official meetings and discussions between the two government. And then what? An agreement bound by international law can be torn up at no cost to them while we suck up the costs incurred. They think we are carrot heads or what?
Yes, we can sympathise with the Malaysian citizens that their government coffers are empty, and they have to get out of the debt that they are in, but then at least talk to us lah! Want or don’t want, just hurry up and say. And then we talk terms. It’s not like Singapore don’t want to talk, is you playing cat and mouse with us! Seems like the new leaders there prefer basking in the media limelight and making headlines rather getting down to serious bilateral discussions.
So what are you afraid of, Dr Mahathir, Anthony Loke and Lim Guan Eng? Come come, I’m sure PM Lee, Minister Vivian and Minister Khaw is waiting to have a constructive discussion on the HSR. Throw in the water agreement too lah! We just wanna talk like adults.