No agenda set yet for Saturday's meeting between PM Mahathir and PM Lee
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s new prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, could not confirm if the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project would be on the agenda when he meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (May 19).
When asked at a news conference on Thursday if the long-awaited rail project will be discussed, Dr Mahathir said his government was still figuring out its stand on certain issues.
“We haven’t fixed any subject,” he said. “We will have a discussion and if he raises any issues, we will discuss them. But at the moment, I’m still trying to figure out our stand with regard to certain issues which we still have not finalized yet so I cannot tell you what we’ll discuss with Hsien Loong.”
The high-speed rail linking the two nations was agreed on under former prime minister Najib Razak’s administration, and was set to be completed by 2026.
However, Dr Mahathir has said that all major projects will be reviewed by the new government, with local contractors to be prioritised.
During the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat in Singapore before Malaysia’s general election, Mr Lee had said that the agreement for the HSR was binding, regardless of a change in government.
“If the subsequent governments have other ideas, well that will have to be dealt with and the agreement will deal with these contingencies,” Mr Lee said in January.
Dr Mahathir was also asked if he would seek help from Singapore in the ongoing investigations into wrongdoings involving state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad. The fund was formerly advised by Mr Najib, and at least six other nations, including Singapore, have opened investigations linked to the controversial firm.
“(PM Lee) said he would be helpful,” said Dr Mahathir. “And if there is a need for me to ask for help, I will shout, ‘help!'”
Mr Lee will be the second foreign leader to meet Dr Mahathir since the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the election on May 9. Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah called on the new Malaysian prime minister earlier this week.