Newly elected  Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has answered former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s challenge for Putrajaya to explain how it came to the RM100 billion cost estimates for the cancelled Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project. The ex-Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib had rubbished the RM100 billion figure, saying his administration had estimated the cost of the HSR project to be just RM72 billion.

Finance Minister, however, said the new estimate takes into consideration of the interests incurred to finance the project. “Please be truthful, when you want to make statements don’t think you have the facts.” said Lim. “In the past, you may have the facts, but now we have the facts. If you include interest component (the HSR cost) is way above RM100 billion,” he said at a press conference in Putrajaya today. He then cited a quote popularly attributed to Abraham Lincoln that “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. The high-speed rail (HSR) connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is a joint project with the city-state. The HSR deal, agreed by the previous federal administration in December 2016, was designed to speed passengers between the two cities in 90 minutes.

The HSR project is projected to be completed in 2026. The train route was meant to host eight stations whereby seven stations will be in Malaysia and one in Jurong East, Singapore — with 335km of the line located in Malaysia and another 15km in Singapore. It was estimated that 22 million people will ride the line by 2036. However, the newly elected cabinet has agreed to cancel this project due to the project high cost. Dr Mahathir had previously described this HSR project, which valued at RM110 billion, as being “unnecessary and will not earn the country a single sen”.

The decision to cancel the HSR had come under fire from several quarters, among them Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Unit chief Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan. Singapore has yet to comment on the issue.