PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seemed to have walked back from an earlier decision when he told a Japanese publication that the high-speed rail project had been merely postponed, not cancelled.
Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review on the sidelines of the Future of Asia conference in Tokyo, he said Malaysia cannot afford the project at this moment but signalled that the door is still open.
“We cannot say we will never have high-speed rail (HSR) in Malaysia. What we can do is we can postpone the project because it is far too costly at this moment,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia would need an HSR but it is something to only consider in the future.
However, in his interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Dr Mahathir commented that the Singapore HSR project is merely postponed.
“We actually postponed the implementation of that project.
“High-speed trains are most effective where the distance is very long. But where the distance is short, it doesn't contribute much.
“So we need to rethink high-speed rail,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also suggested the possibility of building an HSR “right through the Peninsula”.
“We cannot say we will never have high-speed rail in Malaysia – there will be a need for high-speed rail in the future,” he said.