SINGAPORE (July 18): Malaysia will soon have a discussion with Singapore regarding the high-speed rail (HSR) project, according to Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Azmin will be leading a delegation to Singapore for the discussion with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and to safeguard the diplomatic relationship between both countries by the end of the month.

According to examinations by Malaysia’s Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) on the bilateral agreement for the HSR, there are clauses that will allow either country to opt out of the project.

“Any party that wants to cancel the project can do so because it is allowed by the agreement, but it must be based on the terms and agreement. All options including reducing the cost, cancelling the project or deferring it, are available to us. So we will table it and discuss with them,” says Azmin.

Feedback from the AGC also mentioned that the matter must be resolved based on the laws, which also involves bilateral negotiations.

“We are looking at all the available options. The bilateral agreement on the HSR provides for either party to cancel the project. This however, is subjected to the terms and conditions of the agreement," says Azmin.

He also stressed that any agreements signed must be fair and just to both parties.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak asked in Parliament, “The international open tender only ends on Dec 28, 2018 and both governments would decide on the bids. The total cost of the project is not yet known, but it would competitive. Some countries would give loans at 0% or 0.1%.”

“So how can the government say it would cost RM110 billion, when the tender is not closed?” Najib asked.

Azmin replied saying that these calculations are “just costing” at the meantime and were made by the Finance Ministry, who also found that there were hidden costs in the project, which were not revealed earlier.

Nonetheless, the minister also said that Malaysia has not excluded the possibility of the project continuing, but will not make any suggestions unless there is a consensus from both countries.

Malaysia had previously announced that they intend to cancel the project, but has since brought it back up for review, if the cost is reduced by half.