KUALA LUMPUR: The RM110 billion figure for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) that the government came up with is only an estimated costing, and may eventually turn out to be lower.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, in defending the figure provided by Pakatan Harapan (PH), said it was much higher than the one quoted by the Barisan Nasional (BN) as there were many hidden costs that were not disclosed previously.
"As I mentioned earlier, the RM110 billion is the estimated costing after calculation by the Finance Ministry, and not the final cost after an open tender.
"Of course, in any open tender process, there will be savings from the biddings made. Which is why we in PH have always asked that all projects be done with an open tender," he said in an answer to a supplementary question by Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak (BN-Pekan) in Parliament, here, today.
Najib had asked how the federal government arrived at the RM110 figure, arguing that the open tender process for the project would only close on Dec 28.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) also questioned the figure, saying the project was only predicted to cost between RM55 and RM74 billion upon its completion.
To this, Mohamed Azmin said: "In many cases (relating to the project), there are many hidden costs that were not revealed by the then BN government. And PH felt responsible to reveal the overall costing."
On Najib's call for the government to make public its impact study on the HSR project once completed, Mohamed Azmin said that has always been PH's principle.
"But at this moment, we must discuss first to see what are the terms in the agreement. This is because our stand is that no project should be a burden to the country and the public," he said.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Azmin revealed that there is a clause within the HSR bilateral agreement that allows either country to pull out of the project, but that it was subject to the terms of the contract that has been signed.
"The agreement that was signed previously provides a clause for any of the two nations to cancel the project," he said.
He however did not disclose the exact amount that needed to be paid in compensation to Singapore if Malaysia pulled out of the deal.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had previously on May 28 said the country has to pay up to RM500 million in penalty if it dropped plans to build the HSR.
Mohamed Azmin was replying to opposition leader Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datuk) to comment on the aspects of the HSR agreement that is currently being reviewed by the federal government. [...]