Who’s lying, Najib asks over conflicting statements on RTS extension

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Datuk Seri Najib Razak asks Transport Minister Anthony Loke who was lying about the cross-border Rapid Transit System (RTS).

The former prime minister questioned the version of the truth in regards to the project after Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that Malaysia had requested on Oct 29 an extension to the suspension of the RTS project for a third time, until April 30,2020.

The Star had reported on Oct 31 that Malaysia had sought another six-month extension to review the RM4bil project, with Loke then accusing The Star of misleading and unethical journalism.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad then announced on the same day that Malaysia agreed to proceed with the RTS between Bukit Chagar and Woodlands in Singapore, but there were issues to be ironed out.

These issues included amending the project’s scope and structure to cut costs by 36% and the use of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, instead of using Singapore’s MRT system as originally planned.

“Now Anthony Loke has to answer this. Was it the Malaysian Transport Minister who lied to the rakyat or the Singaporean Transport Minister who lied to the Singaporean parliament?

“If so, what the 7th Prime Minister and Anthony Loke announced the other day is that the RTS has been suspended and the probability that the project is cancelled if Singapore does not agree with the changes announced by Malaysia, ” Najib said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Nov 5).

Najib said that what was worse is that Singapore’s claims that the announcement by Dr Mahathir, including that of lowering the costs and changing the train systems from the MRT to the LRT were not told to the island-state.

Loke had on Tuesday (Nov 5) said that Malaysia requested the six-month extension not to review the project but to ensure that three agreements can undergo the necessary amendments before being signed by April 30,2020.

These are the amended bilateral agreement, joint venture agreement and concession agreement, said Loke.

At present, more than 367,000 people use the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex daily, with 254,000 of them at the Johor Baru side and 113,000 at the Second Link.

Both governments signed a bilateral agreement last year to build the cross-border MRT link from Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor to help alleviate congestion at the Causeway.

Under the proposal, the RTS will have two stations, with the Singapore terminus located at Woodlands North and the Malaysia terminus at Bukit Chagar.

Both stations will have co-located Singaporean and Malaysian customs, immigration and quarantine facilities.

Initially targeted for completion by Dec 31,2024, the RTS will be the second rail link between the two countries after the KTM Tebrau shuttle service.

However, the agreement with Singapore spells out that the KTM shuttle train service will have to cease operating within six months after the RTS starts operating.

The Star



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